Mask in the form of a rooster's head

mid-20th century
Artist Unidentified

Object Place: Burkina Faso


Overall: 20.3 x 21 x 24.1 cm (8 x 8 1/4 x 9 1/2 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Wood and pigment

Not On View


Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art



This rooster mask from the Mossi peoples in Burkina Faso was worn during important events in village life. Masks appear during burials, funerals, and initiations, and other important occasions in the annual ritual cycle. Each mask represents an animal, wild or domestic. These characters, whether animal or human, appear in the myths of origin of the lineages that own the masquerades. One of the common features on Mossi masks from this area is a trilobed crest that sweeps back from the top of the head, representing a bird. On rooster masks, the central lobe is ribbed, evoking a rooster’s comb. The mask would have been worn like a cap on the head, with an attached fiber or raffia costume.


About 1968, acquired in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso (then Upper Volta), by Drs. Eli and Carolyn Newberger, Brookline; 2009, year-end gift of Eli and Carolyn Newberger to the MFA. (Accession Date: January 20, 2010)

Credit Line

Gift of Eli and Carolyn Newberger