This fine, sculptural anklet has been cast with a hen’s head at its front and a prominent tail at the other end. The body of the anklet is decorated with bands of spiral motifs.
Such an anklet was worn by women whose relatives participated in masked dances associated with the Do (or Dwo) cult – Do was considered the mediator between mankind and the supreme god, (Grootaers, J. L. & I. Eisenburger, 2002, p. 153). It is of solid-cast copper alloy.
The masks that embodied the Do messenger were made of rafia, leaves and feathers. Such masks typically were replicated on the front of such anklets, as is the case here.
Click here for a related version in the Brooklyn Museum.
The lands of the Bwa which occupy central Burkina Faso and some parts of neighbouring Mali were occupied by the Bamana empire in the 18th century. The Bwa were weakened by Bamana raids and heavy taxation. Later, the Bwa were oppressed by the Falani who enslaved many Bwa, and later still, the lands were colonised by the French. Today, the Bwa number only about 300,000. The overwhelming majority have remained animist.
The anklet here has a fine brown patina and ample signs of wear. It has been sympathetically mounted onto a black acrylic stand.
Grootaers, J. L. & I. Eisenburger, Forms of Wonderment: The History and Collections of the Afrika Museum, Berg en Dal, 2002.