The Mossi number about 3 million and are the largest ethnic group living in Burkina Faso. They are farmers and herdsmen. They are unique in Burkina Faso for their centralized and hierarchical political system, in addition to clans and professional corporations led by elders. At the apex of the political system is the Moro Naba, or Emperor of the Mossi, whose palace is in Ouagadougou. The rulers use wooden figures to validate political power, while the commoners use masks to honor the spirits of the wilderness. The Mossi are closely associated with totemic animals: the relationship that men and animals hold is of reciprocal dependence and the disgrace or prosperity of one group is reflected also on the other. Thekaranga masks representing spirits appear during funeral occasions to accompany the dead to their tombs or, placed on familial altars, they are an instrument of communication with the dead. Their task is also to protect wild plants, whose use is collectively regulated.
Provenance: Raskin Private Collection