Plank mask. The masks of the Bwa represent nature spirits or animals that family elders encountered in the wilderness and which watch over their families. They may represent antelopes, warthogs, wild buffalo, monkeys, crocodiles, serpents, fish, birds, and insects, along with some human beings, and bush spirits who take on supernatural forms. Both the scars on peoples faces and the patterns on the masks represent the moral code or religious laws that the followers of these spirits must obey if they are to receive the blessings of the spirit. A mask has a circular face with geometric designs, and is surmounted by a large plank with a crescent-shaped motif at the upper end. The eyes set off by concentric circles are intended to recall an owl, and the hooked shape extending from its forehead alludes to the hornbill. The motifs are symbols linked to Dwo, the god of the wilderness and to the history of the clan. The mask is worn in front of the face. The dancer looks through the open hole of the mouth. These masks are thought to be inhabited by supernatural forces, who act to benefit the clan, that possess them.
Size: H. 43½, W. 9½, D. 5½