Item #: AS145
The Mossi are a Gur ethnic group native to modern Burkina Faso, primarily the Volta River basin in western Africa. The Mossi are the largest ethnic group in Burkina Faso. Masks occupy an important position in the religious life of the Nyonyose, the ancient farmers and spiritual segment of society among the Mossi people. The Nakomse (chief class) do not use masks. The use of masks in initiations and funerals is quite typical of all the Voltaic or Gur-speaking peoples, including the Nyonyose, Lela, Winiama, Nouna, Bwaba, and Dogon. Masks appear at burials to observe on behalf of the ancestors that proper burial procedures were carried out. They then appear at several funeral or memorial services held at regular intervals over the years after an elder has died. Masks attend to honor the deceased and to verify that the spirit of the deceased merits admission into the world of ancestors. Without a proper funeral the spirit remains near the home and causes trouble for his/her descendants.