Among the Bwa people, masks with human, animal, and fantastic traits typically represent protective bush spirits. This mask’s horns and muzzle identify it as a bush buffalo. Masked dancers appear during the dry season for initiations, funerals of elders, market days, harvest celebrations, and annual renewal rituals to protect the well-being of the community.

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Learn more about this artwork.


  • Title: Buffalo Mask
  • Date Created: early to mid-1900s
  • Physical Dimensions: Overall: 69.8 cm (27 1/2 in.)
  • Provenance: Katherine C. White [1929-1980], Gates Mills, OH, given to the Cleveland Museum of Art, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
  • Type: Mask
  • Rights: CC0
  • External Link: https://clevelandart.org/art/1969.2
  • Medium: Wood, plant fibers, paint, and iron
  • Department: African Art
  • Culture: Africa, West Africa, Burkina Faso, possibly Bwa-style maker
  • Credit Line: Gift of Katherine C. White
  • Collection: African Art
  • Accession Number: 1969.2

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