Tribal art > African mask > Masque Gurunsi
Gurunsi vertical plank crest mask (N° 17725)
Among the Gurunsi, the Lela, Winiama, Nuna and Nunuma are the main mask sculptors. They influenced the style and meaning of the masks of their neighbors Mossi and Bwa. Several animals can be represented: buffalo, antelope, warthog, hyena, calao, snake and crocodile and their combined attributes. The board extends from a stylized bird mask with a rectangular bifide beak. The ornamentation is carefully engraved on each side of the mask: the black triangles allude to the footprints of the hooves of the antelopes and the growths symbolize the beaks of the calao, associated with divination and magic. Mate patina, locally flaky, erosions at the top.
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These masks were worn by the members of the village, completely hidden under clothing made of vegetable fibres, during the ritual dances. The ritual was to bring fertility and prosperity to the village, provided it was properly performed. They also performed during funeral ceremonies of notables, to celebrate the passages of initiation grades, or simply for entertainment.
On the religious plan, the Gurunsi believe in a superior being, Yi, who withdrew from the world after creating it and whose altar occupies the center of the village.
Yi sent the Su spirit, embodied in all masks and honored by an altar, to represent him.
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