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Mossi Karan Wemba Mask Burkina Faso African Art 40 Inch

$490.00
Product #: 109552
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Title Mossi Karan Wemba Mask Burkina Faso African Art 40 Inch
Type of Object Yatenga Style Mask
Country of Origin Burkina Faso
People Mossi
Materials Wood and pigment.
Approximate Age second half 20th Century
Dimensions Height: 40 Inches
Width: 5.5 Inches
Depth: 5.5 Inches
Overall Condition Good.
Damage/Repair wear, scrapes, chips, shallow cracks


Additional Information:  A large Mossi mask composed of a rounded face with two triangular open eyes with on the top  a carved female figure. There dare markings painted in white on the figure and the mask. This mask belongs to the category of Karan-wemba. The well carved and painted female represents a woman who was married , had children and grand-children, and whose husband having died, has returned to her father's compound where she is honored as a living ancestor. The mask recalls her when she was young and a mature woman with her hairstyle, facial markings, and stance she is at the height of her physical beauty. So despite her true age she is depicted as a beautiful young woman, always in her prime. She has fulfilled her duty on earth as the marks down each side of her face (scarification) and around her navel indicate that she has born children. Therefore when this mask dances at funerals she celebrates the life and role of women in Mossi society as well as welcoming the new ancestor to the world of spirits.


The Mossi are today the largest single group living in Burkina Faso (previously known as Upper Volta). They originated from horsemen who made their way north from present day Ghana sometime during the 1500’s. The Mossi  established powerful kingdoms and though no longer as powerful the Mossi today still identify with their ancient kingdoms and recognize their ruling groups of elders through art and ritual. The Mossi are renowned for their masquerades and brightly painted masks and costumes. Ancestors are highly honored with elaborate funerals and the appearance of masked dancers with masks representing the social rank and identity of the deceased. Various spirits of the ‘bush’ recognized by the Mossi are also given form in the masks and their character proved in the dances.


For similar piece see Christopher D. Roy, Thomas G.B. Wheelock, Land of the Flying Masks. Art and Culture in Burkina Faso, Prestel, 2007, figs 122, 124


Recommended Reading:


Christopher  Roy, The Art of Upper Volta, 1987.


Christopher D. Roy, Thomas G.B. Wheelock, Land of the Flying Masks. Art and Culture in Burkina Faso, Prestel, 2007