Bwa Kobiay Mask

  • Tribe: Bwa
  • Origin: Burkina Faso
  • Approx Age: Mid 20th Century
  • Materials: Wood & Pigment
  • Dimensions cm: 60 tall x 18 wide
  • Ref. Number: 0208

A stunning and rare Bwa Kobiay mask from the Bwa people of Burkina Faso. These are a very strange but very interesting mask in my opinion, they hold so much character. This mask is covered in a red, black and white pigment, this has been around and used for quite a while as it looks to have been repainted at some time. It has age cracks and deterioration on the nose and dorsal fin? and has old insect holes which we treated when we got it just in case, but overall a stunning rare mask in good condition for its age. This was in a US collection for 25 years before it arrived in our collection in 2013.

Blacksmith’s Bwa kobiay mask,  Didiro Clan

This mask was carved by the blacksmiths of the Didiro family in the town of Houndé, just south west of Boni in central Burkina Faso. It represents hombo, the protective spirit of the smiths in that area. Similar masks represent the same spirit of the smiths in Ouri, in the north east of Boromo. This is a fine, elegant and expressive example of the best art from Burkina Faso. It is colourful, well carved, light, symmetrical, and shows evidence of considerable use in performances in Houndé.

Bwa Kobiay Blacksmiths Mask

these masks represent the spirit “hombo”, a protective spirit of the blacksmiths. Most of the masks depict beings from the bush in an animalic or fantastic shape, invisible for humans. The knowledge of the masks and of their geometrical patterns is restricted to the male population. During a two week initiation the boys are introduced to this secret knowledge, which also serves for mediation of social and moral values.

There was a superb example of an older Didiro family kobiay mask on a permanent exhibition in Paris at the old Musée des Arts d’Afrique et l’Océanie which, by now, has presumably been transferred to the Musée Branly. The mask illustrated here has a well-developed patina on its interior, and the tab beneath the chin, gripped by the dancer to stabilize the mask during animated performances, shows a highly developed patina on its posterior side. The front of the grip was painted with black pigment during its last renewal.”



Christopher ROY & Thomas WHEELOCK, “Land of Flying Masks – Art and culture in Burkina Faso”, pièce n°135.

Bwa Kobiay Mask