First of all, it is necessary to make a difference between the truly traditional masks and the masks considered rather as decorative objects.
Traditional masks are used for the ceremonies and rites of the Burkinabe ethnic groups. They are made by the caste of blacksmiths, the guardians of the custom, with a technique kept secret from generation to generation. Receptacle of invisible power, the masks are sacred, feared and respected by all.
Artistic masks do not have the same meaning in the eyes of local people. Produced for commercial purposes, they do not meet the same manufacturing criteria and are devoid of mystical powers.
"Sou" or worship of the masks of Gossina, a village located 35 km from Toma in the province of Nayala, is a ritual that takes place every three years. There are three lineages that hold masks in Gossina. The masks are at the beginning and end of any social organization in the San village of Gossina.
In fact, the worship of the masks of Gossina mainly lasts for two weeks. But the festival itself takes place in two days: the departure of the masks at the altar of "Sou" and the mask dance in the public market square. According to Diyè Dié, an initiate in the cult of the masks of the Dié lineage of the Guila district, on the eve of the festival, the mother masks of the different lineages holding the masks come out to howl at night.
After the different howls of the mother masks, all the masks are back in their forest", relates Diyè Dié. Early in the morning, the masks of the different lineages come out. The exit of the masks of the Dié of Gila is the most spectacular. The village is alerted by the sound of drums near the forest called "Wonkodan", from which the masks come out. The masks come out in a hierarchical order. The mother drummer first calls for the non-sacred masks, before arriving at the most sacred masks, the most feared.
The mother-mask called "nakrô-magnè" comes out in last position. Each mask, after having been invoked many times, comes out in its most beautiful outfit, sketches dance steps, goes back and forth. A ceremony full of joy to burst the audience. Gossina's masks have a carved wooden head and fiber clothing. The zoomorphic masks are the most dominant. They mostly represent wild animals. Another trend, less evident, is to make anthropomorphic models.
"Sou" for peace and social cohesion
During the "Sou" period, any dispute is punished in Gossina and its allied villages and no woman should leave her husband for any reason during the "Sou" period. Any theft is also forbidden, according to him. "The seventh day of the festival is sanctioned by a tour of the initiates to the ''Sou'' called ''sounè'' in all the villages attached to Gossina, through the ritual to catch goats in order to sacrifice them. This ritual is performed to promote abundant rain and social peace in the village.
Masks of Gossina
Masks of Gossina