Bwa or Bobo Animal Mask Burkina Faso
Bobo and Bwa are two ethnic groups located in Burkina Faso, a landlocked country in West Africa. They are renowned for their exceptional woodcarving skills, which have been passed down through generations. Both groups are known for creating elaborate and ornate masks, sculptures, and other wooden artifacts that are used in traditional rituals and ceremonies.
The Bobo people are skilled carvers who create intricate wooden sculptures and masks. Their carvings are characterized by their striking forms, elegant lines, and intricate detailing. Bobo masks are often used in masquerade dances, where they are worn by dancers to represent different spirits and deities.
One of the most famous Bobo carvings is the Dwo mask. The Dwo mask is a sacred mask that is believed to have the power to protect the village from evil spirits. It is often carved from a single piece of wood and adorned with elaborate decorations and symbols.
Another well-known Bobo carving is the Boli figure. The Boli figure is a wooden statue that is used in traditional rituals to honor ancestors and connect with the spirit world. It is often carved with intricate designs and adorned with cowrie shells and other decorative materials.
In the literature on African art they are often called the Bobo-Fing, but they call themselves Bobo. They number 130,000. They live in eastern Burkina Faso, and also in Mali. They are farmers. The major food crops are sorghum, millet, yams, and maize. They grow cotton and peanuts as cash crops. Their lives are regulated by a council of elders. The notion of having a chief is profoundly foreign to them and they consider it to be dangerous -- as waging a severe attack on the order of things as established by the god.
The Bobo god, creator of earth and animals, is Wuro, who formed the world from a ball of mud. The first man created was a blacksmith. Dwo, a son of the Wuro was responsible for helping humankind. The blacksmiths were the priests of Dwo worship. Spirits of the bush and ancestors received sacrifices. Dwo was the intermediary between humankind and the creator; masks are the mainstay of tradition and their meaning was revealed to young boys during their initiation period.
Living in a region of dry savannas where harvests depend on rainfall, the Bobo instituted a series of purification rituals in order to reconcile themselves with nature. Since it is proper to make amends for the errors of humankind, masks have the essential function of erasing evil and reinstating the God-given balance between sun, earth, and rain. At the end of the dry season and before the work of cultivation begins, purification ceremonies take place, using masks of leaves, of fiber and wood, which may represent Dwo or protective spirits: warthog, male buffalo with flat horns, rooster with its crest standing perpendicular to its face, toucan, fish, antelope, serpent, and hawk. All of them incarnate the forces of fertility, fecundity, and growth.
The masks symbolize animals or spirits and are worn during ceremonies associated with new crops, initiations and funerals. Among the Bobo, the sacredness of the mask derives from the fact that the divinity is considered to be present in the mask and, through it to be acting. The wearer is depersonalized to the advantage of the mask that he animates. To be a ‚Äúmask‚Äù, man had to erase himself, that is to say, cease to be himself, shed his individuality. The Bobo also cast bronze pendants and statues.
The Bwa, unlike their more traditional Bobo neighbors, are far more receptive to change and outside influence, therefore they are prone to produce masks of a more fanciful nature than their conservative relatives.
The Bwa occupy large areas of Mali and Burkina Faso, extending from the banks of the Bani River in Mali in the north almost to Diebougou and the Ghana/Burkina border in the south. The Bwa are farmers, which they consider to be the most noble of occupations. Most of the fieldwork is done by men, although women help out occasionally during the planting and harvest. In addition to cotton, which dominates their fields, the Bwa grow millet, sorghum, rice, yams, and peanuts. The Bwa now grow so much cotton they often must purchase other foods for cash in distant markets.
The Bwa people are also renowned for their exceptional woodcarving skills. They are known for creating elaborate masks and sculptures that are used in traditional rituals and ceremonies. Bwa masks are often used in dances and ceremonies to celebrate the harvest or to mark important events such as weddings and funerals.
One of the most famous Bwa carvings is the Nwantantay mask. The Nwantantay mask is a sacred mask that is believed to have the power to connect the living with the spirit world. It is often carved from a single piece of wood and adorned with intricate designs and symbols.
Another well-known Bwa carving is the plank mask. The plank mask is a long, narrow mask that is often used in dances and ceremonies. It is carved from a single piece of wood and adorned with intricate designs and patterns.
In conclusion, both Bobo and Bwa people are talented woodcarvers who create stunning wooden sculptures, masks, and other artifacts that are used in traditional rituals and ceremonies. Their carvings are characterized by their intricate detailing, elegant lines, and striking forms, and they are a testament to the rich cultural heritage of Burkina Faso.