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Nwantantay (Water Spirit Mask)

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unknown Bwa
Bwa Primary

Nwantantay (Water Spirit Mask)

Late19th century - Mid 20th century
Wood with twine

43 1/4 in. (109.86 cm)

Bryn Mawr College
Accession Number: 99.3.53
Other Number(s): 48 (Sotheby's Lot Number)
Geography: Africa, Burkina Faso, Central Burkina Faso
Classification: Ceremonial and Performance Artifacts; Masks
Culture/Nationality: Southern Bwa, Burkinabe, West African, African
Collection: Neufeld Collection

Keywords Click a term to view the records with the same keyword
This object has the following keywords:
  • African - Refers to the cultures of the continent of Africa, which is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Burkina Faso - Style and culture of the people of Burkina Faso.
  • masks - Refers to coverings for all or part of the face, usually with openings for the eyes and sometimes the mouth. They are worn to hide or alter the identity of the wearer or for protection. Masks as cultural objects have been used throughout the world in all periods since the Stone Age. Masks are extremely varied in appearance, function, and fundamental meaning. They may be associated with ceremonies that have religious and social significance or are concerned with funerary customs, fertility rites, or curing sickness. They may be used on festive occasions or to portray characters in a dramatic performance and in re-enactments of mythological events. They may be used for warfare and as protective devices in certain sports. They are also employed as architectural ornaments.
  • masques - Short allegorical dramatic entertainments performed by masked performers, popular in the 16th and 17th centuries.
  • West African - Styles and cultures from the region comprising the westernmost area of the African continent, defined by the United Nations as including the modern nations of Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.
  • wood - The principal tissue of trees and other plants that provides both strength and a means of conducting nutrients. Wood is one of the most versatile materials known.

Additional Images Click an image to view a larger version
Additional Image 99.3.53_BMC_f_2.jpg
Additional Image 99.3.53_BMC_f.jpg

  • Owner Name: Mace Neufeld and Helen Katz Neufeld, Class of 1953
    Role: Donor
    Place: Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, US
    Ownership End Date: 12/20/1996

Bibliography List
The following Bibliography exist for this object:
  • Important Tribal Art Sotheby's . New York, NY, 1989
    Figure Number: 48
  • "African Heritage Document and Research Center." (Accessed June 11, 2020): Record No.: 0006047.

Comparanda List
The following Comparanda exist for this object:
  • RJG, "Three African Masks." Bulletin (St. Louis Art Museum) 15, no. 1 (January - March 1979): 157.
  • Iris Hahner-Herzog and Maria Kecskesi. African Masks: From the Barbier-Mueller Collection (Munich, Germany: Prestel, 2002), 243. Figure Number: 23

Related Bibliography List
The following Related Bibliography exist for this object:
  • Ruth Kuykendall, "The Art of Upper Volta." African Arts 10, no. 3 (April 1977): 68.
  • RJG, "Three African Masks." Bulletin (St. Louis Art Museum) 15, no. 1 (January - March 1979): 156-158.
  • Iris Hahner-Herzog and Maria Kecskesi. African Masks: From the Barbier-Mueller Collection (Munich, Germany: Prestel, 2002), Figure Number: Plate 8.
  • Michel Voltz and Marguerite Oerlemans. "Voltaic Masks." The Drama Review: TDR 26, no. 4 (Winter 1982): 38-45.
  • Christopher D. Roy, "Signs and Symbols in African Art: Graphic Patterns in Burkina Faso." (Accessed April 23, 2020): University of Iowa,
  • "Khan Academy." (Accessed April 23, 2020):
  • "ÌMỌ̀ DÁRA." (Accessed May 10, 2020):

Portfolio List Click a portfolio name to view all the objects in that portfolio
This object is a member of the following portfolios:

If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=BMC>cite web |url= |title=Nwantantay (Water Spirit Mask) |author=Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections |accessdate=3/26/2023 |publisher=Bryn Mawr College</ref>

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