Mossi Rooster Mask


Burkina Faso

The Mossi use masks honor the spirits of the wilderness and control the forces of nature. Since they live in a region of dry savannas where harvests depend on rainfall, the Mossi organized a series of purification rituals in order to reconcile with nature. Since it is proper to make compensation for the errors of humankind, masks have the essential function of erasing evil and reinstating the God-given balance between sun, earth, and rain. They represent spirits from the wild bush areas surrounding the village, which may appear to humans as animals. Men and women encounter these spirits while hunting or gathering firewood and these spirits, which play an important role in the history of the lineage or clan, are honored by being represented by masks. Clan members will not kill or eat the flesh of the animal spirit, for when such an animal dies, a member of the clan will also die. The spirits protect the family from disease, accident and natural disaster, its crops from insects and drought, its women from infertility, and generally ensure success in life. Among the Mossi, the sacredness of the mask derives from the fact that the mysticism is considered to be present in the mask. On ritual occasions the groups which use these masks speak a secret language called suku which is completely unintelligible to other non-mask groups. Both men and women participate in mask rites, and one becomes a member of the mask groups by birth into one of the mask-using clans.

When masks are not being worn in performances they are placed on ancestral shrines in the ancestral spirit house of the family that owns them. Sacrifices may be made on the mask to obtain the blessings of the spirit that the mask represents. Men and women, adults and children alike have access to the masks for sacrifice, although all sacrifices are administered by a man. Mossi masks appear most frequently at funerals, when masks that belong to the clan of the deceased appear to honor the dead and to participate in the blood sacrifices that free the spirit of the dead to leave the world of the living and travel to the world of the ancestral spirits.These masks are worn with a very heavy fiber costume which completely hides the identity of the wearer or the fact that the mask is being worn by a human being.

Wood , Woven fibers

Height : 18″ (45.7cm)