Komo among Tagwa-Senufo Peoples in Southwest Burkina Faso

by Boureima T. Diamitani
West African Museums Programme

Mali; Bamana peoples

Komo Society Mask

Late 19th-early 20th centuries

Wood, metal, antelope horns, porcupine quills, organic materials

H. 14 x 8 x 33 1/2 in. (35.6 x 20.3 x 85.1 cm)

Brooklyn Museum, By exchange, 69.39.3

Creative Commons-BY

Women are not allowed to see the mask at performances or at any other time and precautions are taken to ensure that they keep away from all matters regarding the mask. All aspects of the Komo are forbidden to females and uninitiated males with one exception: in certain circumstances, females born under the sign of the Komo are able to attend the performances, but only before puberty and after menopause. Two categories of females are born under the protection of Komo. When a woman is sterile or loses her baby by miscarriage she goes in front of Komo's house during the day and challenges it.  She throws herself on the ground and says loudly: "you Komo say that you are strong and powerful, if you are really powerful as you say give me a child".  She can scream and roll on the ground as long as she wants, then goes back home after taking a twig from the roof in front of the box of Komo. Generally after three months she is pregnant.  A male child is the Komo’s son; a female child his daughter, who is therefore allowed to see the Komo until her marriage. These children of Komo do not have to be initiated as the child born after this request is the Komo and is called the child of Komo.  The second category is when a child’s protective spirit is the Komo. If it is a girl she is allowed to see the Komo.