Wood, nice patina, black and red pigment, covered with intricate geometrical designs, combination of human and animal features, sagital crest, horned, thin nose and small swollen eyes and mouth.
Bobo’s masks symbolize animals or spirits and are worn during ceremonies associated with new crops, initiations and funerals. This genre of helmet mask, known as bolo (pl. bole), can only be worn by blacksmiths at important rites.Although both farmers and blacksmiths use wooden masks, only the blacksmiths have the power to make the masks. Blacksmiths maintain a unique position in Bobo society; they are considered supernatural men who possess associations with spirits and mysterious powers inaccessible to common citizens. Due to their intermediary position between the earthly and spirit realms, only blacksmiths possess the secret knowledge and strength to create a wooden mask and mediate its powerful forces.
The Bobo have lived in the western region of Burkina Faso and in Mali as far back as 800 A.D. The Bobo tribe believes that every act that takes something from nature has a negative impact. Before planting and harvesting their crops they hold rituals to ask permission from the nature spirits and their creator god Wuro. They believe Wuro is responsible for nature’s equilibrium and for bringing everything into harmony. Their religious system involves restoring order through a series of offerings and rituals.
Signs of use and damage.
H: 37 cm (14 ½ inch).
Literature: Bacquart, Jean-Baptiste (2010) The Tribal Arts of Africa.
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Regional & Ethnic Antiques