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Bwa, Burkina Faso and Mali

Nature Spirit plank mask. Over 300,000 Bwa people are scattered across Burkina Faso and Mali. The Bwa are farmers who grow grain, especially millet, sorghum and corn. They are classified into professional castes: farmers, blacksmiths and musicians. They have a rich masking tradition. The northern Bwa primarily use masks made of leaves, feathers, and plant fibers. The southern Bwa also have various types of wooden masks, which they adopted from the neighboring Gurunsi people and from the original Bobo. Representing spirits of nature, which influence human life, the maskers appear on market days, during initiations, funerals, harvest rites, and on other festive occasions. This mask is marked by a high degree of abstraction. Yet the Bwa associate some of the compositional elements with certain birds that play a role in the spirit world. The eyes set off by concentric circles, for instance, are intended to recall an owl.

Material:  wood

Size:   20”x. 17”x 2”