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Fish Mask

A work made of wood and pigment.

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  • A work made of wood and pigment.

Date:

Late 19th/early 20th century

Artist:

Bwa
Burkina Faso
Central Africa

About this artwork

Among the Bwa, families and lineages have special relationships with nature spirits and ancestors. Such beings are embodied through masquerades that reenact mythic events. In performance, an elderly man carrying a fish net pursues the fish mask shown here. The fish allows the man to capture it, sacrificing itself for the survival of its human counterpart. In contrast, the dwarf mask [see 2000.313] is performed only by the Bondé family and is much smaller in scale than the average Bwa mask. It honors an ancestor who was famed for his knowledge and abilities in the wilderness. As he lay dying, he asked to be remembered with a mask carved to his size.

Currently Off View

Arts of Africa

Culture

Bwa

Title

Fish Mask

Origin

Burkina Faso

Date

1875–1925

Medium

Wood and pigment

Dimensions

114.3 × 17.8 cm (45 × 7 in.)

Credit Line

Mrs. Chauncey B. Borland Fund

Reference Number

1958.116

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 . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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