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Bolo Mask

Arts of Africa

On View: Morris A. and Meyer Schapiro Gallery, 5th Floor
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.
CULTURE Bobo
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
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Morris A. and Meyer Schapiro Gallery, 5th Floor
ACCESSION NUMBER 58.184
CREDIT LINE Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Gustave Schindler
RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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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
IMAGE overall, 58.184_PS1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2007
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
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.
RECORD COMPLETENESS Best (87%)
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