The Bwa Tribe


The Bwa people are from Burkina Faso. They typically make animal masks to enlist the power of the spirits who live in the forests, bush country, and rivers surrounding their villages. The masks make the spirits visible to them and put them in touch with another realm. Additionally, the masks depict spirits associated with powerful animals such as buffalo, antelopes, hawks, and fish. The masks are owned by families and clans who use them for protection. Zig-zag lines typically found in the Bwa’s artwork signify the “path of ancestors,” a moral path that is very difficult, but one every villager must follow to succeed in life. Dancing with such masks on market days, funerals, and initiation ceremonies honors the spirits and brings blessing to the community.




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