Africa

Bozo puppet headpiece from Mali

Q: In keeping with the current African theme, I thought you might like to see this large Bozo mask I picked up a few years ago. It’s approx 22″ tall by 14″W. I really liked the bright color and the cartoonish facial expression. I don’t think it’s very old, but it’s very well made, and one of the more interesting Bozo masks I’ve seen online.

The following information is from the seller: “This is a fabulous Bozo Puppet that comes from Mali. Bozo Puppets are used by the people of the Bozo tribe of Central Mali to tell the stories of their tribe. The young men’s association is responsible for the masquerades after the harvest is finished. A week of song and dance with these puppets recounts the history of the group.

“Villagers come together to celebrate. Puppets are brought out, and competitions are held to find the best performers. Tribal history, customs and morals are taught through the puppets. Bozo puppet headpieces such as these were performed during the Sogo Ba masquerade. Dance troops of young men, members of local youth groups, sing, dance, drum, manipulate puppets or dance masks in creating performances called Sogo Ba.

“The headpiece is a complex carving with a number of motifs presented and emphasized through the use of bright colors and expressive sculpting of the facial features and metal decorative pieces.” Dan, 1671

A: Thanks for sharing this beautiful puppet head with our visitors. As a long-time mask collector, I have always been interested in these headpieces from the Bozo people. Do you have “The Colorful Sogo Bò Puppets of Mali” by Mary Sue Rosen & Paul Peter Rosen? It is an excellent book. A

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