Mossi Wan-Pesego Mask
Masks in this style are generally small, most are not provided with eyeholes, for they are not worn over the face.
Origin: Burkina Faso
Approx Age: 1960
Dimensions cm: 31 long x 16 wide x 16 tall
Ref. Number: 1622
A lovely styled Mossi Wan Pesego mask, this style of mask depicts the head of a ram, a symbol of masculine power and fertility. It is sat on the top of the head of the dancer and the mask originally having all the holes around the base filled with plant fibre covering the dancers face and amalgamating in with the costume of the same material.
Provenance: Ex-private UK collection
Mossi Wan Pesego masks in this style are generally small, most are not provided with eyeholes, for they are not worn over the face but sat on top of the head. These dance masks related to fertility rituals regarding agriculture. This style puts it in the region of Ouagadougou for origin. Made from one piece of wood and decorated with red, brown and ochre plant pigments.
BY CHRISTOPHER D. ROY (1947-2019)
UNIVERSITY OF IOWA
The Southwestern (Ouagadougou) Style.
The Mossi masks that are today produced in greatest numbers and that are most readily recognized by most Burkinabé have frequently been misattributed by Western art historians to peoples other than the Mossi, usually to the Bobo.
Although published descriptions of Ouagadougou Style masks are rare, they occur in the earliest descriptions of the Mossi. Lieutenant Marc, in his thesis on the Mossi, writes:
“The `Ouangos’ are dancers whose costume is made up of a large robe fabricated of fibres covering the entire body and surmounted by a wooden mask painted red and black, representing, most frequently, the head of an animal. The masks that are used by the Mossi in the traditional kingdom of Ouagadougou southwest of the White Volta River, are small, wooden, animal masks, worn over the face or as crests on top of the head, or slanting on the forehead. They are decorated with geometric patterns burned into the wood and painted dark earth red, black, and matte white… The masks of the `Ouangos’ are constructed in the greatest secrecy. They must be made from just one piece of wood, and the carver must not be seen before the work is completed” (1909: 152).
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