Nature, Spirits and Arts in Burkina Faso

by Christopher D. Roy
University of Iowa

Burkina Faso; Nuna peoples. Bush pig mask performing in village of Tierko, 1985. Photo by Christopher D. Roy.

The bush pig is as ubiquitous as the hyena in the wilderness areas of central Burkina Faso. An adult bush pig is fearsome when it is defending its young with its long sharp tusks, and many of the Nuna men and women in Tisse, where this mask appears, have been startled and fled from bush pigs as they walked through the wilderness looking for game or firewood. Just like the hyena, the other masks in the community avoid the bush pig because it is dirty and aggressive. The performer mimics the rapid, abrupt, jerky movements of the animal, tossing his head as if sniffing the air for approaching danger. The long wooden batons held in the performer’s hands represent the lore legs of a four-legged animal.

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Burkina Faso; Nuna peoples. Bush Pig Masquerade. Video by Christopher D. Roy.