UVaM - University of Virginia Art Museum

Collection

Swooping Hawk Mask,
20th c.
Nuna peoples, Burkina Faso
Wood, pigment,
11.25 x 52 x 7 inches
Gift of Robert S. Zigler,
1992.9.1

Large wooden masks among the Nuna represent protective nature spirits, such as the high-flying hawk. The performer who wears this artistically carved mask imitates the movements of a hawk in flight, rotating the mask around his face and turning his body from side to side in a vigorous dance. The geometric patterns on the hawk's wings display esoteric symbolic patterns that refer to moral principles that people must follow in life.