190307 - Large Old Tribal Used African Mask from the Gurunsi - Burkina Faso.


Burkina Faso: Large Old Tribal used African Animal mask from the Gurunsi.
Height: 65 cm.

The masks represent the spirits of the bush.
The Nuna, the Nunuma and the Winiama create masks in the form of animals coloured in black, red and white. These masks can only be differentiated by their horns and their ears. These groups sculpted masks representing buffalo, snakes, antelope, warthogs, hyenas, hornbills and crocodiles. The eyes are bulging and framed by concentric circles. The muzzles are quite short for animal masks. There are other more abstract masks that have wide protruding mouths. These masks, decorated with geometric forms were repainted every year.
The Gurunsi or Grusi people are cluster of Gur-speaking peoples of larger Niger-Congo language family found in Northern Ghana and Southern Burkina Faso. There population of Gurunsi in Ghana is estimated to be approximately 976,311 and in Burkina Faso an estimated population of 1 million.
The Gurunsi people of Ghana and Burkina Faso are known for their elaborate mural painting houses and its architectural designs as well as their (sculptural) zoomorphic masks, covered with geometric motifs. The masks have concentric eyes and polychromatic effects in black, white and red. Winiama sculptures are the most geometric.
The use of masks is taught to the young initiates who also have to undergo a series of moral, physical and intellectual tests. At the end of the initiation the young initiates return to the village and give offerings to the Su spirit.