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Karanga (Plank Mask)

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unknown Mossi

Karanga (Plank Mask)

Late 19th century - Mid 20th century
Carved wood, kaolin, pigment

56 in. x 4 3/4 in. x 4 3/4 in. (142.24 cm x 12.07 cm x 12.07 cm)

Bryn Mawr College
Accession Number: 99.6.22
Other Number(s): P9 (Plass Number)
Geography: Africa, Burkina Faso, Northern Burkina Faso, Yatenga (Upper Volta)
Classification: Ceremonial and Performance Artifacts; Masks
Culture/Nationality: Yatenga, Mossi, Burkinabé, West African, African
Collection: Plass Collection
Description: Among the Mossi, a zoomorphic mask represents the totem animal of a male leader and his clan, and is associated with protection, fertility, origins, and wealth. This dramatic antelope mask would serve as an aid and witness during important ceremonies, such as burials, agricultural rites, or sacrifices. Masks such as this one could also serve as portable altars and fertility figures.

Geometric designs are evenly distributed on the surface of this mask, which itself is covered with kaolin, a soft, white clay. Through a series of small holes on the rim of the mask's lower part, it would be secured to the masquerader's costume.

To see a Mossi mask performance, northern Yatenga style:

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.
  • funerals - Ceremonies or rites held in connection with the burial or cremation of the body of a deceased person.
  • kaolin - Hydrated aluminum silicate clay. It is used for making porcelain for china and chemical porcelain for valves, tubes, and fittings, as a pigment and filler in paint and plastic, an abrasive powder, and in paper to yield a glossy surface.
  • Mossi
  • plank masks - African masks in the form of an elongated vertical plank, positioned in front of the masker's face, and projecting upwards. Worn in Burkina Faso among the Gurunsi, Mossi, Bwa, and others.
  • 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 99.6.22_BMC_f.jpg
Additional Image 99.6.22_BMC_r.jpg
Additional Image 99.6.22_BMC_pr_2.jpg
Additional Image 99.6.22_BMC_pr.jpg
Additional Image 99.6.22_BMC_pl.jpg
Additional Image 99.6.22_BMC_f_2.jpg

Exhibition List
This object was included in the following exhibitions:
  • On Selecting: Profiles of Alumnae Donors to the African Art & Artifacts Collection , Jan 25, 2017 – Sep 2, 2017
  • Worlds to Discover: 125 Years of Collections at Bryn Mawr College Bryn Mawr College , Sep 24, 2010 – May 28, 2011
  • African Art from the Collection of Margaret Feurer Plass '17 Bryn Mawr College , May 19, 1990 – Oct 1, 1992

Bibliography List
The following Bibliography exist for this object:
  • Marianne Hansen and Emily Croll. Worlds to Discover. Bryn Mawr College. Bryn Mawr, PA, 2010
    Page Number: 30
  • "African Heritage Document and Research Center." (Accessed June 11, 2020): Record No.: 0178061.
  • Frisk & Borodin Appraisers, Inventory and Appraisement Belonging to the Estate of Margaret Barton Plass, Deceased. 7 March 1990 Bryn Mawr College Special Collections. Bryn Mawr, PA, 1990
    Page Number: 1, Figure Number: 9

Comparanda List
The following Comparanda exist for this object:
  • "New Orleans Museum of Art Online Collections Database." (Accessed April 24, 2020): Accession No.: 77.147.
  • "African Heritage Document and Research Center." (Accessed June 11, 2020): Record No.: 0150374.

Related Bibliography List
The following Related Bibliography exist for this object:
  • Christopher D. Roy, "The Spread of Mask Styles in the Black Volta Basin." African Arts 20, no. 4 (August 1987): 40-90.
  • Christopher D. Roy, Mossi (Milan: 5 Continents Editions, 2015), 32-33, 116. Figure Number: 7, Plates 19-20

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=Karanga (Plank Mask) |author=Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections |accessdate=3/20/2023 |publisher=Bryn Mawr College</ref>

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