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Bolo Mask

Arts of Africa

Becoming Again

Masquerade is a moment for play—a chance to invent and experiment, even within established social needs and existing mask genres. These two pairs of related works demonstrate artistic innovation in existing masquerade genres over time.

The two Bobo works share a basic form—a domed helmet with an extended vertical face, close-set eyes, and ridged horns—typical of Bobo mask style. The archaic features, weathered surface, and evidence of local repairs suggest that the nineteenth-century mask (far left) was a work of considerable local importance. It may represent an intellectual and visual predecessor of the twentieth-century version.

The Senufo kponyugu masks are both horizontal composite animal forms with long, projecting horns, a large, gaping mouth, and fearsome accoutrements such as sharp teeth and claws. Such details relate to Senufo cosmology, legends, and beliefs about the connections between certain animals and the ancestral and nature spirits that connect the living. The bright paint and overexaggerated features of the late twentieth-century version demonstrate how Senufo artists have updated this mask form over time.
MEDIUM Wood, pigment, fiber
DATES early 20th cenutry
DIMENSIONS 45 1/2 x 14 x 13 in. (115.6 x 35.6 x 33 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
CREDIT LINE Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Gustave Schindler
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Wood mask, features rather stylistically carved with protruding mouth and eyes, long straight nose, two horns on top of head. Entire front surface covered with fine geometric incised designs. Remains of pinkish substance on facial surface. Black fiber mantle sewn around bottom of mask.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Bobo. Bolo Mask, early 20th cenutry. Wood, pigment, fiber, 45 1/2 x 14 x 13 in. (115.6 x 35.6 x 33 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Gustave Schindler, 58.184. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 58.184_PS1.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 58.184_PS1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2007
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