A female Bwa butterfly mask


In stock

Category: SKU: BBD032490


A female Bwa butterfly mask, Bukina Faso, of highly abstract form, wide-spread wings decorated on each side of the front with triangular and circular geometric patterns, the face with circular eyes, the protruding mouth pierced through, on top a curved, hornlike appendix; fine aged patina with black, white and reddish pigments.

1.600 – 2.000,- Euro

Length: 140 cm
Weight: 4 kg

Roy (1987: 270) notes: “Bwa wooden masks represent a number of characters in the myths of their families and clans. Masks represent numerous animals including the antelope, bush buffalo, monkey […], the crocodile and fish of several types […] and insects including the butterfly […]. The bird masks and butterflieds are the most abstract, consisting of a broad, horizontal plank, decorated with large concentric patterns. The mouth projects from the center and there […are] circles representing the patterns on the butterfly’s wings.”

Bwa masquerades draw upon the stylized features of humans, animals, and even insects. This mask is called duho, which means hawk (or sometimes duba, meaning vulture). The wings of the primarily two-dimensional hawk mask are usually simply decorated with white paint. The face of the hawk has been reduced to basic geometric forms. An inverted triangle defines the “face” and contains a protuberant, conical mouth and two sets of concentric circles for eyes. The outwardly projecting beak and the hook at the top of the face are two of the few elements that serve as a contrast to the overall planar nature of this nature spirit representation. Bold geometric shapes repeated in brightly painted designs are often added to enliven the surfaces of these relatively abstract forms. Bwa nature spirit masks are particularly impressive due to their commanding size and shape. This hawk mask’s horizontal span extends nearly five feet wide; the wingspan of a related representation of the butterfly (yehoti) may be up to six or seven feet. Despite their daunting scale, these face masks are indeed worn by a performer, who bites on a thick fiber rope that passes through holes in the mask to secure it to his face. The mask is also attached to a fiber costume that covers the head and body of the performer. The choreography of the performance is derived from the movements and behavior of a hawk or vulture.

Additional information

Weight 4 kg