Rooster Mask



Rooster Mask


Ceremonial costume, effigy, mask, sculpture


20th Century


West Africa, Burkina Faso


20 1/4 x 9 13/16 x 7 1/2 in. (51.5 x 25 x 19 cm)

Object Number



Animal imagery is widespread in African masquerades. Traits of different animals are often fused together to create mythical creatures. Nuna masks represent protective spirits from the bush that enter the village during market days and for funerals and initiations. All nuna masks are embodiments of Su, the mask spirit, who is an element of the supremem creator god Yi. Su aids in matters of cummunal welfare and fertility. This particular mask features two animals: the rooster, which as a sacrificial animal, facilitates communication with the spirit world; and the chameleon, a creature whose ability to change color lends itself to associations with magical powers, transformation, and fertility. The rooster's red beak protrudes forward, while its ridged crest thrusts upward, morphing into the body and tail of a chameleon. The geometric designs incised on the mask are called scars, and they bear the same meanings of beauty, protection, and status carried by human scarification patterns.

Credit Line

Ex coll. William S. Arnett


MCCM Permanent Collection Gallery, 2008 - December 1, 2014
MCCM Newsletter, March-May, 2008, back cover.|
Michael C. Carlos Museum: Highlights of the Collections (Atlanta: Michael C. Carlos Museum, 2011), 95.


© Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University. Photo by Bruce M. White, 2006.
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On View



“Rooster Mask,” Michael C. Carlos Museum Collections Online, accessed September 18, 2020,

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