Nuna hyena mask (Three quarters view)
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Item : Nuna hyena mask, Picture : Three quarters view (approx. 20 Kbytes)


This mask represents a hyena, wild and totemic animal in the Nuna society. Worn over the face, this mask is sculpted with geometric patterns, and lines radiate from the eyes. The shape of the mask and its geometrical patterns constitute the elements of a system of communication. Each element has a meaning which may change from one group to another, and also within a village. On the exoteric level of the uninitiated, they represent the spirits of the bush (su) who act as intermediaries between the ancestors and mankind. At a most esoteric level, the mask and its symbols are reminders of a social, political and religious order of the community.
This very old mask was used to provide for the fertility, health and prosperity of its owner and community. It dances to drive evil forces away, and participates in funerals and initiations ceremonies. Its great age suggests that it was also used as a sacrificial altar to su.

Object #2944

Origin :

Burkina Faso (Area located between the Red Volta and the Black Volta River)

Type :

Masks and headdresses

Ethnic group :

Nuna / Gurunsi

Material :

Fine aged brownish wood, granular and micro cracked patina

Size :

H = 13.3 inches

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