Bwa Plank Mask


Burkina Faso

Bwa masks represent spirits of nature which influence human life. These masks are plank shaped with a circular face at one end and a crescent moon at the other. The concentric eyes are based on the owl and the hooked nose alludes to the hornbill. Both these birds are thought to possess magical powers. The plank section is decorated with geometric patterns which communicate the history and teachings of the clan. Some common characteristics include black and white rectangles checkerboard which represent the black and white hides that initiates sit on. The worn, old black hide mats are used by the knowledgeable elders as they sit watching mask rituals, and the white rectangles represent the fresh, new light-colored hides that their more junior and less wise assistants sit on. The black and white color represents also the separation of knowledge and ignorance, the initiated and the uninitiated. The large white crescent that surmounts the masks represents the "moon of masks" that shines during the season that the masks perform.

This mask is worn in front of the dancers face and held in place with a thick rope by the wearer's teeth. Their wearer looks through a hole in the mouth. It is used to celebrate the farming season, funerals and market day dances. On market days, performances are organized to entertain the villagers and traveling merchants, and to permit young men to meet young women they might marry


Height : 48″ (121.9cm)