Plank Mask

A work made of wood and pigment.

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  • A work made of wood and pigment.

Date:

Early/mid–20th century

Artist:

Bwa
Dossi, Burkina Faso
Northern Africa and the Sahel

About this artwork

This immense butterfly mask required strength and skill to control. Short dowels on the mask’s back were used to strap it to the head of a male performer, who also wore a costume of long raffia fibers. The mask’s patterns are open to various interpretations depending on the viewer’s depth of knowledge. For instance, the concentric circles suggest rippling pools of water around which butterflies appear in spring. Bwa masks are performed at community events, especially in the dry season, including men’s and women’s initiations, annual renewal ceremonies, burials, memorial services, ceremonies for newly made masks, and market days.

On View

Arts of Africa, Gallery 137

Artist

Bwa

Title

Plank Mask

Origin

Burkina Faso

Date

1900–1975

Medium

Wood and pigment

Dimensions

52.1 × 238.8 × 26.7 cm (20 1/2 × 94 × 10 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Charles H. and Mary F. Worcester Collection Fund

Reference Number

2008.190

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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