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Crest mask with costume
Date: Mid-20th century
Medium: Wood, pigment, plant fiber
Dimensions: H x W x D: 160 x 50 x 80 cm (63 x 19 11/16 x 31 1/2 in.)
Credit Line: Gift of Allen Clayton Davis
Geography: Burkina Faso
Object Number: 2002-22-1
Search Terms:
geometric motif
Object is not currently on exhibit

The Mossi crest mask and costume is probably the type described by specialist scholar Christopher Roy as part of the southwestern style from around Ouagadougou. These masks are usually stylized, abstract representations of animals, the characteristics of which can vary so widely that it is difficult to discern what animal is represented. This example seems to combine the beak of a bird with the horns of an antelope. The carved and painted head, horns and beak contast dramatically with the dark fiber costume.

Red, white and black colored mask with a hemispherical shaped head, S-shaped horns that curve back, two ears on either side of the horns and a long beak. The median ridge rises in the middle and extends from beak to the back of the head. There is a ladder design under the eyes and on either side of the face, alternating black and white stripes on the horns and diamond designs on the beak. A plant fiber costume is attached to the neck.

Allen C. Davis, Alexandria, Virginia, acquired Burkina Faso (then Upper Volta), 1968-1970 to 2002

Earth Matters: Land as Material and Metaphor in the Arts of Africa, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., April 22, 2013-February 23, 2014; Fowler Museum at UCLA, University of California, Los Angeles, April 19-September 14, 2014; Bowdoin College Museum of Art, October 15, 2015-March 9, 2016

When the Spirit Moves: The Africanization of American Movement, National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center, Wilberforce, OH (traveling), May 23, 1999-June 1, 2001

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