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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)
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Bolo Mask

Image Coming Soon

Bolo Mask

early 20th century

Eyelashes give this mask a surreal sense of being very human. It is not seen by the Bobo as an actual person, but a messenger from the son of the divine creator who relies on masked characters to keep the chaos that humans create under control. Masks come to reflect on the struggles of the year. In performance, the masker spins, charges around, and literally lifts the mask above his head for a rapid rotation. It reminds viewers of the role played by the blacksmiths of the community who carve the masks, often perform them, and maintain supernatural knowledge.
Wood, hair, resin, and pigment
19 3/16 x 9 15/16 x 13 in. (48.7 x 25.3 x 33 cm)
Gift of Katherine White and the Boeing Company
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistoryLos Angeles, California, Frederick S Wight Gallery, University of California, African Art In Motion, January 20-March 17, 1974; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., April 21-July 30, 1974.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Praise Poems: The Katherine White Collection, July 29-September 29, 1984; Washington, D.C., National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, , October 31, 1984-February 25, 1985; Raleigh, North Carolina, April 6-May 19, 1985; Fort Worth, Texas, The Kimbell Art Museum, September 7-November 25, 1985; Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, March 8-April 20, 1986.

Cleveland, Ohio, Cleveland Museum of Art, African Tribal Images: the Katherine White Reswick Collection, July 10-September 1, 1968; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, The University of Pennsylvania, October 10-December 1, 1968

Seattle, Wash., Seattle Art Museum, Disguise: Masks and Global African Art, June 18–Sept. 7, 2015 (Los Angeles, Calif., UCLA, Fowler Museum of Cultural History, Oct. 18, 2015–Mar. 13, 2016; Brooklyn, N.Y., Brooklyn Museum, Apr. 29–Sept. 18, 2016).

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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