Bwa (Bobo) Peoples, Burkina Faso
H: 77 inches, W: 14 inches
Materials: wood, paint (red, brown, beige, black)
This fine and superb plank mask names Nwantantay, is handcrafted and used by the southern Bwa ethnic group, south of Dedougou in Burkina Faso. It is presumed to represent nature spirits that the family elders encountered in the wilderness, and which watch over their families.
The zig-zag lines on the mask represent the path of the ancestors that all Bwa must follow, if they are to overcome adversity. The concentric circles are the sacred wells in one town that are said to be the “water spirit”. The masks are used for entertainment during market days, for initiation of young adults, and at annual yam festivals. The dancers appear wearing thick costumes of brightly dyed hemp fiber.