Photographs © Tim Hamil
Wan-Zega Mask 4
43.5 " high x 11" wide x 10" deep
This mask has been vetted as authentic with signs of use and age.
The most common masks of the Eastern (Boulsa) Mossi are the tall masks, worn by adult men, with red fiber costumes called wan-zega ("red mask"). The visible portion of the mask is about 35 cm. long and 20 cm. wide. It is painted white with red surrounds at the eyes. A tall (ca. 100 cm.), thin pole extends from the top of the mask. The pole is covered with a thick layer of long red fibers, and from it hangs a large, heavy sack of traditional medicine which swings freely when the mask dances. The body of the performer is covered with a close-fitting red costume. Wan-zega carry a long knife and a club in the left hand. However, I never saw a mask actually use either of these weapons. Both of these masks carry long, flexible whips made from the branch of a neem tree. The masks frequently strike out at spectators with these whips (sabaga).
The semi-cylindrical mask is bisected by a ridge or nose. The black lines on the mask represent traditional scarification patterns. Parallel slots on each side of the nose allow the performer to see.
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