African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Mossi Mask
Mossi Mask (N° 14097)
This African bwa mask is made up of a flat, circular surface topped with an open board and feminine sculptures in round-bumps represented in an attitude of devotion. Circular decorative motifs adjoin with layered hooked reliefs symbolizing bird beaks. They're heading for a losangic mouth. The colours are divided into blackish bitumen, kaolin and burgundy red pigments. According to Gabriel Massa and Chantal Dewé, concentric circles symbolize the original sacred wells, triangles the footprints of antelopes, and the curved hooks calao, an animal associated with divination.
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The African art sculptures of Bobo , Bwa, Kurumba and Mossi, living in Burkina Faso, frequently take up and combine stylized elements borrowed from humans, animals or insects. It is the spirits of nature that are supposed to determine the well-being and prosperity of an individual, and adversity will be seen as the result of neglect scars of collective rites. It is therefore during various celebrations that the mask will personify a spirit of nature or that of an ancestor in order to influence the daily life of the members of the ethnic group. They appear to honor the deceased during funeral rites, and to escort souls to the realm of the dead. They also occur during agricultural festivals in order to ensure the progression of the seasons, so during the initiation rites they will introduce young people to the responsibilities of adult life. Masks are the object of family pride, and thus a way to enhance its prosperity and influence within the group. It is in a spirit of competition that everyone will seek to highlight the danced performances of his mask, and to highlight the ornamental motifs of his surface.
Source: "Black African Animal Masks" Ed. sepia
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