Mossi Plank Mask from Africa

A wonderful Mossi Yatenga style plank mask from Burkina Faso, this tall, thin mask consists of a white mask, black and brown square mask that matches the length of the horns carved to resemble those of a gazelle and a plank that is covered in black and white pigment. The tall, vertically oriented, plank masks are used by the Mossi in the traditional state of Yatenga have, for decades, been considered the epitome of Mossi sculptural traditions.

Masks are owned by a clan descent from the same ancestor and are used in various ceremonies, including initiations, funerals, and annual year-end sacrifices. The masks represent the spirits of familiar animals and a clan’s ancestor spirits or serve as guardians of fruits. Every member of a clan is connected to the animal that their clan’s masks depict. The animal is involved in the founding myths of the clans and members of a clan cannot kill their clan’s animal. Masks are named after the animal a mask represents.

The masks are commonly accompanied by a costume made of blackened fibers from the hibiscus plant called a bindu. Young men who are educated in the meanings of the mask are those chosen to wear them, and they are also known by the name of the animal.  (Photo and copy from


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