TITLE: Nuna Chameleon Mask
GENERAL REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Burkina Faso
DESCRIPTION: Chameleon Mask
CEREMONY: Adult Initiation; Divination; Entertainment; Funeral; Purification; Spirit Invocation
AGE: ca. 2000
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: kaolin; pigment; dyed plant fibers
The Nuna and related Nunuma people inhabit Burkina Faso and share with their neighbors, the Bwa and Winiama peoples, a highly geometrical masking style. There are two major types of masks used by the Nuna peoples. Sacred masks (wankr) are said to have descended from the sky and are danced with weapons in their hands in important ceremonies only. When not being worn, they are used as sacrificial altars. Revealed masks dance only on ritual occasions.
Other masks (wamu), such as this one, are created by villagers for specific purposes. Animal masks are danced in mimicry of the animal itself. Unlike wankr dancers, wamu dancers carry only whips and are mainly used for entertainment and funerals.
All masks may be used for spirit invocation, boys initiation ceremonies, village purification, or divination.