Africa

Bobo mask from Burkina Faso

Q:  I recently received a mask gift from my dad. He picked it up at an antique shop in Michigan that recently acquired a world traveler/collector’s collection. They didn’t have much info on it other than the collector likely picked it up in Africa on one of his trips. From what I’ve found online, it appears to be Bobo tribal mask of a buffalo and bird combo. All signs of wear, age and old smell point to it being authentic. Do you have any thoughts on this one? Value? Much appreciated!   Adam, 1488

A:  You researched this attractive mask well. If it was meant to be a mix of animals,  I would guess buffalo horns on a toucan. The last photo on this post is a traditional antelope mask, which is different in style, and the fact that it has not been artificially aged.

The Bobo people make lots of animal masks. At the end of the dry season and before the work of cultivation begins, purification ceremonies take place, using masks which may represent protective spirits such as a warthog, buffalo with horns, rooster, toucan, fish, antelope, serpent or hawk.

The good news is that your well made animal mask is unusual and would appeal to many collectors. The bad news is that it is not an old, used mask. It has been artificially aged and then left in the sun and rain for a while. This lowers its value.  B

2 Comments

  • Adam

    Thanks for the post 🙂
    I thought the colors were nice as well. I didn’t see them anywhere else in my online research of Bobo masks. Bummer to hear it’s been artificially aged, but I am happy to have it! My dog, however, is not a fan.

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