- Label Text
- Among Bobo peoples of southeastern Burkina Faso, masks are owned by families and appear in initiation ceremonies, burial and funeral rites, harvest ceremonies and in masquerades intended solely to entertain. This helmet mask, called bolo (pl. bole), is an entertainment mask. It illustrates the widespread use of red, black and white pigments and the carved or pyroengraved geometric patterns that characterize much of Bobo and neighboring Gurunsi sculptural arts. Black pigment is made from boiled seedpods, red from ground stone that is rich in iron and white pigment from gathered lizard excrement or ground classroom chalk.
- Entertainment masks like this one are often danced on market days for all to see and enjoy. They may represent people or animals and are worn with fiber costumes. Like all wood Bobo masks, this helmet mask was carved by an artist from a smith clan. In Bobo cosmology, smiths were the first beings to be created by the deity, Wuro. When Wuro withdrew from the world, he left behind a part of himself, Dwo, his son, whose multiple manifestations are reflected in the great variety of Bobo masks. As the first to be created, smiths were also the first to receive masks from Wuro; this entitles them to control the production and use of all Bobo masks, be they crafted from wood, cloth, leaves or fiber.
- Wood helmet mask with human features, sagittal crest and overall geometric pattern painted red, black and white. The mask has applied hair eyelashes and a red fiber tassel that hangs from the nose. The holes are pierced around the bottom periphery.
- Eliot Elisofon, New York, collected in Mali, 1959 to 1973
- Exhibition History
- Masterpieces of African Sculpture: An Exhibition of Significant Works of Sculpture from More Than Forty of the Major Tribal Traditions of Africa Dating from the Early Ninth Century to the Twentieth, Syracuse University.School of Art, Joe and Emily Lowe Art Center, February 16-April 1, 1964, no. 169.
- Published References
- Syracuse University, School of Art. 1964. Masterpieces of African Sculpture: An Exhibition of Significant Works of Sculpture from More Than Forty of the Major Tribal Traditions of Africa Dating from the Early Ninth Century to the Twentieth. Syracuse, NY, no. 169.
- Data Source
- National Museum of African Art
- Bobo artist
- Early to mid-20th century
- Credit Line
- Bequest of Eliot Elisofon
- Wood, pigment, hair, wool
- H x W x D: 34.3 x 21.6 x 34.3 cm (13 1/2 x 8 1/2 x 13 1/2 in.)