Nwantantay Mask - Bwa People, Burkina Faso
Title: Nwantantay Mask
Material: Wood and natural pigment
People: Bwa People
Description: The most impressive of the Bwa masks is the
Nwantantay, usually consisting of a rounded face with a
protruding mouth through which the performer can see. A
handle often extends below the face. The face is connected
to the plank and has a prominent hooked beak. The plank is
a large vertical rectangle & is surmounted by a large crescent
with the opening turned up. The mask is marked with
geometric patterns in white, black, and sometimes red. The
patterns represent the scars worn by the Bwa men & women
and comprise a system of signs & symbols used in initiations.
These masks are not representational, they are not intended
to look like any natural being, rather they embody supernatural
forces that act on behalf of the Bwa clans that own the masks.
The eyes represent the eyes of an owl (a bird is symbolic of
magical power). The masks appear at initiations, celebrations,
funerals, and annual renewal ceremonies. The mask also invokes
the spirit of nature that controls the water.
Dimensions: 78" height x 22 1/2" width x 14 1/2" depth