I recognize the style but not the character

Bwa or Mossi
Bwa or Mossi

Q: 20-odd years ago I was doing some work in Ghana and came across this mask. At the time I thought it unusual and as far as I could tell (after a while you developed a sense of what is and what isnt ) seemed an authentic as opposed to carved for tourists item (but seeing as the Africans are past masters at aging items of course I could be wrong) anyway the mask always seemed to have a visual strength to it and I really like it.
Recently I wanted to find out more about it and started looking for clues and despite a lot of searching can not find one that is similar. I am assuming the closest visual references come from Burkina Faso with the geometric design and stylization.  Steve, 610

A: Of course it is from Burkina Faso, but I have never seen one with the large, fan-shaped headdress. I hope someone will comment on it. It is a good looking design for sure. You would think someone who is interested in the traditional art of the Bwa, Mossi and other cultures in that area would have something. B+

to say.


  • leon

    Maybe Mwantantay?, Gurunsi but the face is almost dogon style so closer to Bob told i also gues Burkina Faso.
    Looks like a fusion between a fish and a bird! The triangels represent the water and fertility.
    The white kaolin is prob. mixed whit snake or lizards ashes, and sometimes they use excrement of snakes and birds.If you only conceive it as a face it might be a face with a feather crest on it, cheeky; a mask representing a masked person!

    grtz Leon or Madrason

  • leon

    Hi there Steve, now i have coincidently found it at an exposition of mid african congo art at the Vleeschhuis in Antwerpen Belgium, by Maessen and the great Olbrecths in 1938.
    It says Songye (some pende influence) mask for initiation feasts, the wonen shoud stay in there huts for it’s a dangerous masks for them to see. The crest is a feather crest!

    source:Ill Magazine publi:Joh Enschede en zonen, titel “Op de hoogte” part 1 of 1938″ 35th year .explanation halfway page 3 and fotograph on last page 6 coll Walschot Brussels.

    grtz Leon or Madrason

    • steve

      Hi Leon I never saw your comments on this post so its taken almost 10 years to reply!
      so sorry -but I still have this mask and still very interested to find out more . nothing comes up searching the magazine you saw . A long shot but would you still have a link you could send me ? best wishes and thanks again for the info steve

  • leon

    It is not exactly the same but it reminded me of the constitution of your mask.
    It is hard to see if there are ajour woodcuts or painted structure that is why i wrote the last mail. if it is ajour cut (my picture is black and white so not to clear)than I stick to my first mail!

    grtz Leon or Madrason

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