Burkina Faso, Bobo-Dioulasso district, Boni village, Black Volta River region
H. 7 7/8 x W. 13 x D. 8 in. (20 x 33 x 20.3 cm)
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Gift of Werner Muensterberger, 1959
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 350
The imagery found in masks of the Bobo, Bwa, Kurumba, Mossi, and others living in Burkina Faso commonly combine the stylized features of humans, animals, and even insects. Bold geometric shapes repeated in brightly painted designs enliven the surfaces of these relatively abstract forms. When used in performances the masks embody nature or ancestor spirits that interact with human beings and influence their lives. They appear at important funerals to honor the dead and escort the deceased's soul to the world beyond. They also dance at agricultural festivities to ensure the proper progression of the seasons, and at initiation rituals to help introduce young men and women to the secrets and responsibilities of adulthood.
[Emil Storrer, Zurich, Switzerland]; Werner Muensterberger, New York and London, until 1959; The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1959–1978