DescriptionGurunsi (Burkina Faso, Western Africa)
Cap mask depicting bush cow
Wood and pigment
Height: 16 inches
Gurunsi is a term used to identify a number of related peoples, such as the Nuna, Nunuma and Winiama who live in south-central Burkina Faso. Like other carving styles of Burkina Faso, Gurunsi masks exemplify abstract, geometric forms and bold use of color. A variety of animal characters are prevalent. The bush cow (buffalo) depicted in this carving is common, and like antelopes, hyenas and other animals represent bush spirits or spirits that take animal form. The round eyes surrounded by concentric circles, a short snout, geometric painted patterns in red, white and black are all typified by this mask.
Masks represent protective bush spirits for a family or community, and insure for peoples' well being. They appear during funerals, initiations of youths, periodic village purification performances and on other occasions.
This carving and its painted surface are in good condition, with minor abrasions and paint loss overall.
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