Upper Volta, a French protectorate after 1896 in West Central Africa. The Mossi, were animists for whom land had a spiritual nature, and ancestor worshipers, believing that ancestors in the Better World, could assist or punish the living. Masks were worn for religious observances and funerals. Animal masks such as this, were used in the southwest. They are worn on top of the head for the benefit of the spirits who are looking down. Animals, both real and imaginary, as well as combinations were represented. The present mask represents the bush cow, a buffalo indigenous to West Africa with the beak of a hornbill. It is finely carved and painted with evidence of wear and use. It is 34 1/2” high and was purchased at Sotheby’s in England. Tribal Art sales were generally held in London at the time, but, about 1990, a single sale which included many world class items including this one was held at their Billingshurst venue. Others purchased by us included a Bwa plank mask which we sold for $5000.00. We were told there would be no follow up sales and no satisfactory explanation of why these items were offered in the country was given. Possibly, it was a condition imposed by the seller. These masks are sacred to this day and protected by the families who own them. Authentic examples such as this are very rarely encountered.