Bush Cow Mask

This wooden mask depicts a bush cow, a fierce animal found throughout West Africa. The mask was most likely worn by the Wee people of Liberia and the Ivory Coast. This mask's large horns, huge snout, and pointy hair made of shot gun shells are all meant to show the hostile and terrifying nature of this animal. Because of its ferocious and powerful appearance, this mask may well have been used as a means of social control.

In America we have a court system that uses police and jails to stop and contain criminals. But before Western laws were introduced into Africa during the colonial period, some West African societies used masks like this one to intimidate and punish criminals and keep people from breaking the law.

© Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University,
Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester and Dallas Museum of Art
For more information please contact odyssey@emory.edu.
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