African art > Mask > Masque Gurunsi
Gurunsi Hybrid Mask (N° 17684)
Combining a face with a beak and a chameleon body extending it to height, this tribal mask of the Gurunsi is engraved with geometric patterns. It evokes the combined qualities of each of the animals evoked. White clay polychromy, red and black ochre.
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These globular-eyed African masks, depicting bush spirits, came out during ritual dances and were worn at the top of the head, in a bias, by village members wearing full-length outfits made of plant fibers. The ritual was to bring fertility and prosperity to the village, provided it was properly performed. These masks were also used during funeral ceremonies of notables, to celebrate passages of initiation grades or simply for entertainment. It was during a two-week initiation that the young boys were introduced to the secrecy of the masks and the meaning of their motifs. On the religious level, the Gurunsi believe in a superior being, Yi, who withdrew from the world after creating it and whose altar occupies the center of the village. Yi sent the Su spirit, embodied in all masks and honored by an altar, to represent him. Among the Gourunsi , or Gurunsi , the Lela, Winiama, Nuna and Nunuma are the main sculptors of masks. They influenced the style and meaning of the masks of their neighbors Mossi and Bwa.
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