African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Mossi Mask
Mossi / Gurunsi Mask (N° 19185)
Ex-collection of African tribal art of the ambassador of Mali, Aidara, in Zaire in the 80s.
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This helmet mask is surmounted by a female figure carved in the round, standing between high horns. On either side of the stylized edge of the mask are crocodiles. These evoke the mythical sacred crocodiles, "receptacle of the souls of the ancestors". They are young initiates, elected by the elders, who will wear the masks. The dancer wearing the male mask expresses himself by an aggressive pantomime and brandishes a long whip.
The African art sculptures of the Bobo, Bwa, Kurumba and Mossi, and other groups of the Volta Basin, frequently use and combine stylized elements borrowed from humans, animals and insects.
Mossi masks, personal or lineage, are an incarnation of guardian spirits offering their support. They occur at burials, at the funerals of clan chiefs, protect crops. True altars without their costume, they can receive libations such as millet beer to honor the ancestors. Their appearance is now frequent during entertainment shows.
Farmers and blacksmiths, saaba, used masks, wando, receptacles for guardian spirits, which often represented the totem animals of the clan.
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