Lot 14
  • 14

Bobo Mask, Burkina Faso

10,000 - 15,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • wood
  • Height: 16 3/4 in (42.5 cm)


Michael Oliver, New York
Allan Stone, New York, acquired from the above on February 15, 1982


Christie's New York, Selections from the Allan Stone Collection, November 12, 2007, illustrated on the cover

Catalogue Note

Roy (1987: 323) notes: "It is very difficult to categorize the vast numbers of Bobo mask types, for even in a small village there are often twenty or more different masks, each with a name, a role to play, gestures, a dance, songs, and [an] entire character with virtues and vices." Masks of the bolo type were entertainment masks created and performed by Bobo smiths and "the imagination of the artist is free to create innovative forms" (ibid.: 329). The mask from the Stone Collection is a highly innovative example. The flat facial plane stands in contrast to the vertical crest on the head, as well as the bulging mouth and eyes, creating a tension between two-dimensional and three-dimensional forms of representation. By this juxtaposition the artist manages to draw the viewers attention to the dramatic facial expression.

The treatment of the eyes, nose and forehead of the Stone mask is closely related to one mask in The British Museum, London (Fagg 1965: 25), and a second one in the Rietberg Museum, Zurich (Roy 1987: 339, fig. 294). It is possible that all three masks were made by the same artist.