African art > African mask > Gurunsi Mask
Gurunsi animal mask (N° 19219)
This tribal mask of the gurunsi, probably depicting the cob antelope, has bulging eyes and is decorated with geometric patterns in two colors.
These African masks with bulging eyes, representing bush spirits, came out during ritual dances and were worn by the village members equipped with integral outfits made of plant fibers that covered the body. The ritual was intended to bring fertility and prosperity to the village, provided it was performed correctly. These masks were also used in funeral ceremonies for notables, to celebrate the passing of initiatory ranks, or simply for entertainment. It was during a two-week initiation that young boys were introduced to the secret of the masks and the meaning of their designs.
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 has sent, to represent him, the spirit Su, incarnated in all the masks and honored by an altar.
Among the Gurunsi, the Lela, Winiama, Nuna and Nunuma are the main mask sculptors. They influenced the style and meaning of the masks of their neighbors Mossi and Bwa.
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