Bobo, Burkina Faso and Mali
Antelope mask. The Bobo numbering 130,000 live mostly in eastern Burkina Faso.
A council of elders regulates their lives. The notion of having a chief is profoundly
foreign to them and they consider it to be dangerous -- as waging a severe attack on the
order of things as established by the god. Masks are the mainstay of tradition
and their meaning was revealed to young boys during their initiation period. Masks have
the essential function of erasing evil and reinstating the God-given balance between sun,
earth, and rain. At the end of the dry season and before the work of cultivation begins
purification ceremonies take place, using in particular masks, which represent the
protective spirits of the village. All of them incarnate the forces of fertility,
fecundity, and growth. The masks different in
various areas symbolize animals or spirits and are worn during ceremonies associated with
new crops, initiations and funerals.