Komo among Tagwa-Senufo Peoples in Southwest Burkina Faso

by Boureima T. Diamitani
West African Museums Programme

Mali; Bamana peoples

Komo kun (head of Komo)

Wood, horn, quill, incrustation

L. 68.6 cm (27")

Indiana University Art Museum, 72.111

The mask becomes functional only with sacrificial material. Once a person wears the mask and costume, he becomes a superhuman spirit who can fight witches and respond to people's problems and uncertainties. The Komo also becomes a diviner, a messenger of Kle, and a protector for the community. The mask in its final form is the artistic product of the owner, who adds additional objects to the base form to make it more impressive and awesome than other Komo in the region.  Komo societies among the Tagwa are competitive, so each Komo leader tries to have the most powerful Komo.  A Komo is only powerful through the power of his owner.  There is no powerful Komo, said Konomba, but only a powerful Komotigui.  All Komotigui will tell you that: Se te Komo ye, se ba matiqui loye (the Komo does not have power, it is his owner who has the power), and Komo ti Koye a matigui lo ye koye (the Komo is not dangerous, it is the owner who is very dangerous).