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Tribal art > African mask > Bobo Mask
Bobo janiform mask (N° 18813)
A combination of sharp contrasting geometric patterns appears under the ritual coating of this African Janiform mask. A crest headdress unites the two faces. The painted motifs symbolize the magical amulets of the Bobo. The masks are repainted with each new season of dance. Some common characteristics are to be noted with some of the helm masks of the Markha, another Mandingo ethnic group.
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These heavy masks, usually designed around a hemispherical helmet with a crest or horned growths, were used in agricultural rituals to restore the balance of the earth. Their significance was revealed during the initiation of young boys. The Bobo Fing are a Mandingo people, most of whom live in the east of Burkina Faso, but also in the south of Mali. Their culture is similar to that of the Bambara. They are organized in lineages led by councils of elders. In each village altars are erected under the authority of blacksmiths, priests of the Dwo cult, but the Bobo also venerate secondary spirits and those of the ancestors. In addition to wood carvings, the Bobo also make masks out of fiber sheets, which they wear in ceremonies to establish a relationship with the spiritual world. The most important wooden masks are the sacred masks (molo and nwenke), the masks that accompany them (nyaga) and the masks for entertainment (Bole, sing. bolo).
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