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The southern Bwa adopted the use of wooden masks from their Gurunsi neighbors. The Bwa masks represent nature spirits or animals that family elders encountered in the wilderness and which watch over their families. They may represent antelopes, warthogs, wild buffalo, monkeys, crocodiles, serpents, fish, birds, and insects, along with some human beings, and bush spirits who take on supernatural forms. Both the scars on people's faces and the patterns on the masks represent the moral code or religious laws that the followers of these spirits must obey if they are to receive the blessings of the spirit. The mask is worn in front of the face. The dancer looks through the open hole of the mouth. The hawk mask dances energetically. The geometric designs convey coded information to the initiates, and meaning vary by clan and level of initiation.
Provenance: Private Raskin Collection
This Bwa mask was among 30+items from our collection filmed in "Wonderstruck" - an American drama film directed by Todd Haynes. The film stars Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams was screened at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival.
Theater release is scheduled for Christmas 2017