Mask Ensemble


Mossi Artist (Burkina Faso)


Twentieth century


Wood, fiber, white pigment, and medicine bag


82 x 24 x 22 inches


The Lenore and Burton Gold Collection of Twentieth-Century Art

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Masquerade serves as a means of connecting Mossi communities to the world of their ancestors and to the mythic origins of each lineage. Performances take place on various occasions including funerals and initiations. Although the masks represent both male and female characters, only men perform the masks. This mask type belongs to a category known as gur-wando, from the eastern Mossi region, and represents a male character named wan-zago. This character is identified by the white pigment on the mask and its hemp costume. The masked personage typically carries a knife or whip and a bag of strong, traditional medicine is suspended from his headdress. Mossi masks such as this one embody divine forces that are deeply revered.

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