The Art of Burkina Faso

by Christopher D. Roy
University of Iowa

Bolô Mask Styles:

The Bolô resemble the Bwa in their openness and tendency to adopt admired cultural institutions from their neighbors. As a result their mask styles are diverse, and reflect the styles of their neighbors.

Koufen masks of wood covered with metal appliqué are very similar to the metal-covered masks with repoussé designs of the Soninké, but Bolô masks are broader and more rounded, with wide cheeks and less angular features. The Bolô tend to cover the entire mask, while the Soninké often leave areas of wood showing. Like Bamana n'domo masks, the koufen bear a series of short, vertical horns above the face, often leading to errors of attribution.

The Bolô also carve masks that are derived from Bobo styles, especially the syêkele used by Bobo farmers. These masks have a long narrow face bisected vertically by a straight, slab-shaped nose. The cheeks are framed by projecting slabs of wood, and the eyes are high at the angle of nose and brow. An elaborate crest of paired triangles and a pair of horns project from the top of the head (Le Moal 1980: 221, ill. 27).

Like the Bwa and the Bobo, the Bolô make masks of leaves and fibers.