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Currently shown

Koan Mask

Location

BURKINA FASO, AREA NORTH OF BOBO-DIOULASSO

Culture

Nuna

Title

Koan Mask

Date

Early 20th c.

Materials

Wood, pigments, vegetable fibre

Dimensions

47 x 18.5 x 37 cm (approx.)

Credits

Gift of Nathalie and Jacques Germain in honour of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts' 150th anniversary, inv. 2011.2

Collection

Archeology and World Cultures

This mask in the shape of an antelope’s head depicts one of the bush’s protective spirits. It is worn at ceremonies during the dry season, at funerals, and at village purification rituals, during which it drives away evil spirits. The dancer’s movements, emphasized by a bulky costume made of long kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus) fibres, imitate those of the antelope in a highly stylized way. The animal’s forelegs are often represented by long staffs the dancer holds in his hands. When the owner of the mask dies, it may be passed on to his son, put aside in the spirit house of the lineage, or sometimes replaced by a copy. Old masks therefore often end up on the art market, which may have been the case in this instance.

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