The Mossi are the largest ethnic group in Burkina Faso. They are also located in Ghana and Ivory Coast. The four main values characteristic of the ethnic group are: ancestors, land, family and hierarchy. Mossi people use masks during burials and initiations. Masks attend to honor the deceased and to verify that the spirit of the deceased merits admission into the celestial ancestors’ world. In fact, without a proper funeral, the spirit remains near to the house and causes trouble to the descendants.
Polychrome rooster Mossi mask
Polychrome buffalo Mossi mask
The buffalo mask is a classic of zoomorphic art.
Mossi Karan Wemba mask
This typical artifact of the Mossi ethnic group is called “Karan Bemba”; it identifies a mask with a female character at the top. The figure is frontal, with long arm adjacent to the body, pointed breasts, protruding navel and folded legs. The mask below has small holes and geometric ornamental decorations. “Karan Bemba” reflects the political and spiritual power exercised by some women. It was used to dance during funerals in honor of women who had attained a certain status, having fully completed their role as wife and mother. The iconography also commemorates the original ancestor of the clan. The tribute to women is expressed by the elegance of the sculpture and its exquisite design.