BWA Hawk Mask
BWA Hawk Mask
This hawk mask was made by the Bwa (also known as the Bobo-Oule, Bobo-Ule, Bwaba, and Bwamu). They are found in both Mali and Burkina Faso in western Africa, and are led by a council of the eldest men of the village lineages rather than a centralized political group. There are three main endogamous castes in Bwa society: farmers, blacksmiths, and griots. Spiritual life centers around Do, an anthropomorphic intermediary figure that connects the Bwa with the Creator. To the Bwa, Do represents the power of nature and the source of life.
This connection to nature is embodied in the masks the Bwa produce. They often take the form of stylized humans, insects, and animals such as the hawk mask here. Other masks take the likeness of buffaloes, antelopes, monkeys, crocodiles, vultures, or butterflies. Wide, white wings, painted circular eyes, and a small beak differentiate hawk masks from other Bwa masks. Although they appear similar to butterfly masks, hawk masks lack the distinct concentric circle pattern that define the former. Instead, they feature a more linear geometric pattern.
These masks are used for conducting burials or initiations, for mourning, and for entertainment. There is a specific dance assigned to the hawk mask, which can be formidable seeing as how they can reach five feet in length. The choreography of the dance mimics the movement of a hawk or vulture, and is distinct from the choreographies of other masks.
14" x 5.25"