TITLE: Bobo Fing Antelope Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Burkina Faso
ETHNICITY: Bobo Fing
DESCRIPTION: Antelope Mask
CEREMONY: Adult Initiation; Agriculture; Funeral; Purification; Spirit Invocation
AGE: ca. 2000-2009
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: kaolin clay; pigment
The Bobo Fing are a Mande-speaking ethnic group inhabit farming communities in Burkina Faso. They share with their neighbors, the Bwa, Nuna, Nunuma, and Winiama peoples, a highly geometrical masking style. Although their masks appear similar, the Bobo Fing are not closely related to these groups, who speak a different family of languages.
Masks such as this one are used to celebrate many important village events, including funerals, the initiation of boys into adulthood and the purification of the region to ensure good rainfall and fruitful crops at planting time. Masked dances erase human evils by restoring a connection to and balance with the sun, rain, and earth. The masks typically represent protective bush spirits such as the warthog, buffalo, fish, antelope, serpent, or hawk. All such masks incarnate the spirits of fertility, fecundity, and growth. The wearer of the mask is considered to embody the sacred spirit during the masquerade.