African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Gurunsi mask
Gurunsi/Bwa guinea fowl helmet mask (N° 21532)
Representative of the tribal masks of the nunuma, a gurunsi tribe living on the banks of the Black Volta, this African mask features a guinea fowl.
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Abraded polychroem patina, cracks.
These African masks with bulging eyes, depicting bush spirits, came out during ritual dances and were worn by members of the village equipped with full-body outfits made of plant fibers that covered the body. The tribal ritual was supposed to bring fertility and prosperity to the village, provided it was performed correctly. These masks were also used during funeral ceremonies of notables, to celebrate the passage of initiation grades or simply for entertainment.
On a religious level, the Gurunsi believe in a superior being, Yi, who withdrew from the world after having created it and whose altar occupies the center of the village.
Yi sent the spirit Su to represent him, who is embodied in all the masks and honored by an altar.
Among the Gurunsi, the Lela, Winiama, Nuna and Nunuma are the principal mask carvers. They have influenced the style and meaning of the masks of their Mossi and Bwa neighbors.
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