Friday, September 30, 2011
Serpent Masks of the Dogon and Bwa
Here, in the top picture, we have the Sirige maskers, made of wood, pigment, fibers and cowrie’s shells of Mali, Dogon. The Sirige mask or serpents mask is worn every 60 yrs by the Dogon to represent the key moments in life; birth, life, marriage, children, trials and tribulations and then death.
Next, in the bottom of the two, we see the serpent mask at the harvest celebration, village of Boni, Burikina Faso, Bwa. The mask before you is held in honor of refudge taken in a serpent’s hole after a retreat from trying to conquer the wives of another nearby tribe.
Both are very eloquently designed, even though they both seem simplistic. The Dogon with their rectangles and x’s in pattern with limited use of color, while as the Bwa is vibrant in red, black and white. Even though both are limited in color, the design elements give off some of its flair also. Both are only worn during certain times, none of these masks are worn yearly. They both have a deep meaning to their ensemble, whether it is life’s stages or tribute to a god.
They are both very spiritually base, although the Dogon are remembering their ancestors and the Bwa are thanking a god-like representation. Both are past down from their ancestors throughout the passing years.
I have talked about these masks in three different blogs, starting with my very 1st blog, my last one, that touches on these masks a little more and now. The strength and determination and passion in their history to keep passing this on generation after generation is so outstanding to me. I love the passion that is put into each and every mask that they wear. The wisdom behind each and the craftsmanship is superior in mines eye. These masks are recreated every time they are worn, not just put on a shelf or bought in a retail store. We make masks, admire them and usually they are for drama, or just to hide ones self at a celebration or such, but these have a much deeper meaning behind them that makes them that much more unique in themselves.
It is interesting to me how they both offer different meanings to each community, while at the same time they have a slight competition going on with the height of the overall serpent mask. The Bwa have made sure that their mask being honored to a serpent god is taller than the Dogon's Sirige mask that honors one's life span.