Do in Leaves and Wood
Among the Bobo and the Bwa 
by Christopher D. Roy
The University of Iowa
The character called Do or Dwo  appears in the religious belief of the peoples of central and western Burkina Faso, as well as numerous groups in northern Ivory coast and southeastern Mali. Engravings that accompanied the publication of Binger's travels to Kong in 1887-89 record the use of leaf or fiber masks to represent Do a century ago (photo ). The congregation continues to flourish, and ceremonies at which leaf and fiber masks representing Do appear are common occurences in western Burkina each year from March to June.
In Burkina Faso the congregation of Do appears to have originated among Mande speakers, primarily the Bobo, and to have spread to one Voltaic group to the east, the Bwa.  The Marka Dafing, a Mande group who penetrated the valley of the Sourou river in the 1600's may have carried the congregation of Do with them, and adopted the use of Voltaic mask styles from their new neighbors, the Nunuma and the Winiama. 
Although the Bwa and the Bobo are similar in several ways, especially in the lack of central political authority and the common congregation of Do, they are quite different in their world view. The Bwa are open and receptive to outside influences, and their society is in a constant process of change, while the Bobo are far more conservative, prefering to preserve the purity of their traditions.  These differences in resistance and receptivity to change is reflected by their adherence to the congregation of Do.
The Bobo are farmers who, despite traditions of migration over centuries, appear to have been the earliest inhabitants of the region of western Burkina Faso around the city of Bobo-Dioulasso.The Bobo speak a Mande language and many of their cultural characteristics, such as the importance of initiation in village life are distinctly Mande, in contrast to their Voltaic neighbors to the east. 
The Bobo live at the headwaters of the Black Volta River. To the east live the Bwa, to the north are the Fulani and Soninke, to the west live the Bolon and Senufo, and to the south live the Lobi, and several Senufo-related groups. The Bobo number about 110,000 people, with the great majority in Burkina Faso, although the area occupied by the Bobo extends north into Mali.
The Bobo should be thought of as a southern extension of the Mande people, that live in what is now Burkina Faso, rather than an intrusive Mande group that has recently penetrated the region. A very important concept among the Bobo (as among the Bwa) is the primacy of farmers, called seseme (sing. sasama) . The core of Bobo farmers has been augmented, over the centuries, by immigrant Mande groups that have adhered to the Bobo traditions of scarring the face and wearing lip labrets, and have adopted the name Bobo and the congregation of Dwo. The largest and most important of these groups are the Zara, or Bobo-Jula, who arrived in the area from Mande between about 1500 and 1700 to found Bobo-Dioulasso. Most Zara are not truly integrated into traditional Bobo life because they carry on long-distance trade during the dry season, and are not bound to the soil as are the Bobo farmers. Both the Zara and the Bobo revere the god Dwo, although each group has given its Dwo masks a slightly different function. The Zara are best known for their white cloth masks, worn at night and called bolo (pl., bole).
The Bobo are farmers, and like most groups
in Burkina except the Mossi, are politically non-centralized. Village organization
is democratic, and decisions are made by a council of male elders from all
lineages. The idea of centralized authority symbolized by a chief is, for
the Bobo, an aberration.
Bobo-Oule is a Jula term, and means Red Bobo, to distinguish the Bwa from the Bobo, whom the Jula called Black Bobo. These people call themselves Bwa, or Bwaba.The Bwa speak a Voltaic language they call Bwamu.
The Bwa live in central Burkina Faso, just west of the valley of the Black Volta River. There are about 125,000 Bwa in Mali, and 175,000 in Burkina Faso, totaling 300,000 Bwa. The Bwa are surrounded by the Bobo to the west, the Bamana to the north (Mali), the Marka Dafing to the east, and the gurunsi and Lobi to the south. The Bwa think of themselves as autochthonous, and record in their oral histories no earlier inhabitants of their lands.
Until the 18th century the Bwa were protected from the conflicts between neighboring states. In the 18th century the Bamana empire of Segou came into power, occupying a large part of the Bwa lands in Mali. The Bwa were forced to pay taxes, and the Bamana carried out raids into unconquered areas, creating an insecure environment. This continuous instability weakened Bwa social, political, and economic systems.
The 19th century marked the decline of the Bamana empire and the rise to power of a predominantly Moslem Fulani empire whose power reached to the Bwa along the Bani River. Incursions were carried out into the interior of Bwa country, bringing the destruction of villages and crops, the theft of animals, and the enslavement of men and women, or the forced enlistment of men in the Fulani army. In addition to raids by armed soldiers, roving bands of brigands used the period of confusion to raid villages that were poorly organized to resist.
The arrival of the French, in 1897, led the Bwa and their indigenous neighbors to hope for an end to the Fulani invasions. Instead the French reinforced the power of these brigands, using them to gain control over the area. The French administration proved to be the greater of the two evils. The culmination of all of this was a severe famine from 1911-1913, made worse by the villager's inability to store grain during rich years for use during lean years due to excessive French taxation. This, coupled with French demands for military recruits in 1914-1915, resulted in a revolt by the great majority of Bwa villages. The insurrection was put down in six months in a series of extremely bloody battles, marked by the determination of the Bwa to fight to the death rather than to submit to enslavement by a foreign power. The French used Fulani mercenaries, heavy artillery, and machine guns and razed all the offending villages. By June, 1916 the revolt was over and the surviving Bwa struggled back to their burned fields and villages to begin to rebuild. 
The Bwa live in independent villages devoid of central political authority. All decisions are made by a council of the male elders of the local lineages, and all external authority is strongly resisted.
The Bwa are very open and receptive to change. They are quick to adopt new ideas or forms that they find useful, and to adapt or transform these discoveries to fit their own specific needs. In this way they are fundamentally different than the Bobo, who wish, above all, to remain faithful to "the path of the ancestors."
The Bwa and Bobo should be considered to be distinct ethnic groups, who have drawn on a common pool of religious belief, resulting in many cultural similarities. Among the most important common characteristics is the congregation of Dwo represented by masks of leaves.
The Bobo creator God is called Wuro. He cannot be described and is not represented by sculpture. Bobo cosmogonic myths, wuro da fere, describe the creation of the world by Wuro and the ordering of his creations, which are placed in basic opposing pairs: man/spirits, male/female, village/bush, domesticated/wild, culture/nature, safety/danger, cold/hot, farmer/blacksmith. The balances between forces as they were created by Wuro are precarious, and it is easy for man, through the simplest daily acts, to pollute his world and throw the forces out of balance. Even farming, in which crops are gathered in the bush and brought into the village, can unbalance the precarious equilibrium between culture/nature, village/bush.
Wuro is an otiose creator God, for after creating a perfect world he saw he could not improve upon it; the world was perfect, and its balance ideal but fragile. This balance could be destroyed at any moment, especially by some kind of change.  Wuro also sought to avoid confrontations with man, the most difficult of his creatures. He withdrew from the newly created world, leaving behind part of his own vital material, his son Dwo, the mask, to help mankind. Dwo is the materialization of one form of Wuro, and his principal manifestation. 
Wuro also left behind with man his two other sons, Soxo, the spirit of the bush, of vital force, and Kwere, the spirit that punishes with lightning and thunder. Events that followed the creation by Wuro are explained in a secret language that is taught during initiation.
Dwo is usually revealed to man in the form of a mask (in leaves for the original form, in fibers and with a wooden head for later forms) as bull-roarers and other objects that are kept near the congregation shrine. 
Because Wuro first gave masks to smiths, smiths continue to control their production and use, whether the masks are made of leaves, fibers, or have wooden heads. Dwo, Soxo and Kwere partake of the essential force or spirit of Wuro. These three spirits are the links between man and the forces that control his life. Shrines are erected to them in every Bobo village, each shrine controlled by a congregation priest, dwobore. Because of their relationship to man and Dwo, smiths are most frequently the congregation priests of Dwo, but in contrast are excluded completely from the congregation of Kwere, thunder.
Dwo is the major spiritual being through which communication between man and Wuro is possible and desirable in his role as the representative of men to their creator. Wuro is a God of action, whose creations are celebrated in the rapid swirling rotation of masks.
The Bobo produce masks in leaves, fibers, wood, and cloth. Each of these is used by one or more segments of Bobo society in a range of traditional contexts. The many types of masks are distinguished by the name of the leaves or fibers used, the colors of the fibers, or the shape of the head of the mask. Each of these masks is a manifestation of Dwo.
The earliest, original forms of Dwo are the most sacred and most highly respected. Masks made of the freshly gathered leaves of various sacred trees represent the original forms of Dwo first revealed by Wuro, which are called Kwele Dwo. Masks made of the colored fibers stripped from Kenaf represent later, revealed forms of Dwo. Each of the different forms of Dwo requires a mask that personifies it, that recreates its personal characteristics.
The most typical leaf mask is birewa sowiye, a mask that appears at the beginning of the performance season to sweep all impurities from the community. The head is made of the leaves of the saxada (Guiera senegalensis) and of the nere. The leaves of the West African mahogany form the body, and saxada leaves again form the arms.
Masks made of fibers are more sculptural than masks of leaves, for the fibers are more supple and durable, and can be manipulated using basketry techniques into more elaborate and identifiable forms.  The most ancient and important of these fiber masks are called kele (photo ). The body of the performer is hidden by a thick fiber costume knotted to a net foundation.
The most important types of wooden masks are sacred masks (molo and nwenke), escort masks (nyanga), and entertainment masks (bole). The sacred masks are representative, rather than representational masks, and do not represent any living, tangible being, human or animal.
Other masks, nyanga for example, are fairly naturalistic depictions (photo ). In the case of entertainment masks, the imagination of the artist is free to create innovative forms.
The two major wood mask types are the molo and nwenke. These are the most ancient and sacred of smiths' wooden masks, forms of Dwo that were revealed in the ancient village of Kwele during the cosmogonic period, that is, after Wuro's withdrawal.
Molo masks are carved of the wood of the sacred tree lingue, Afzelia africana. These masks have a long, rectangular or trapezoidal face. The head is a spherical helmet with a sagittal crest. Two thick, long horns project dramatically upward from the helmet, and there is no frontal plank above the face.  A small handle of plaited fiber beneath the chin permits the masks to be held on the head during acrobatic performances. 
Nwenke have remained exclusively smiths' masks. These masks are composed of a very elongated trapezoidal face with a narrow chin, surmounted by a frontal plank. The intersection of the nose and brow form a "T", and the brow is protruberant, with the small eyes high in the angle of nose and brow. The nose is long and bisects the face vertically; the mouth is small and always very low on the face. The heavy helmet-shape is surmounted by a sagittal ridge. Nwenke masks wear fiber costumes.
In addition to masks made for ritual use, the Bobo carve masks used for entertainment, called bole (sing. bolo). These are helmet masks that rest on the shoulders, or cap masks with short faces. They represent people or numerous animals: antelope, rams, monkeys, rooster. These masks are worn with fiber costumes.
The Bobo use masks of the congregation of Do in three major contexts: masks appear at harvest time in annual rites called birewa danga. Masks participate in the male initiation, named yele danga, which is their major function. Finally, they participate in the burial (syebi) and the funeral rites (syekwe) of people who have been killed by Dwo, or of the elder priests of Dwo. 
Leaf masks representing the initial and universal form of Dwo serve to integrate the individual into human society and to link the community of man with the natural world; fiber masks fix the individual in a social grouping, dedicated to one of the later forms of Dwo. These masks are important agents of socialization. The significance of these lessons is impressed on each new generation in the major institution of initiation. 
By his very nature Dwo is not concerned with death. The masks that represent him as a result, usually do not participate in death ceremonies, especially among farmers. Among blacksmith clans that are followers of sibe, the presence of masks at funerals is required. There are, however, exceptions: In the north, birewa sowiyera leaf masks participate in the burials and funerals of people who have been killed by Dwo, either struck by lightning or burned alive in the fibers of the mask they were wearing. Dwo is said to have "swallowed" the offender. In addition, a funeral of a priest of Dwo, the dwobwo, who also "belongs" to Dwo and who has been responsible for the masks' performances, is marked by the appearance of masks of leaves, but these show their respect for the head of the congregation. 
Bwa Religious Beliefs:
Only 5% of Bwa are Moslem, 10% are Christian, while fully 85% are traditional animists. For most Bwa, spiritual life centers on the congregation of Do, and on the myths that recount the founding of the clans.
Capron has stated that the congregation of Do among the Bwa has been acquired by the Bwa from the Bobo, along with many social institutions, out of a sense of admiration by the Bwa of Bobo social cohesiveness and village organization. This acquisition of the congregation of Do is an example of Bwa receptivity to change for they are quick to adopt institutions from their neighbors if they feel they will benefit. As an example, the congregation of Mami Wata has recently been introduced from Nigeria by young men expelled from Nigerian oil fields in 1983. 
The Bwa believe that the world was created by God, named Difini, or Dobweni, who abandoned man and left the earth when he was wounded by a woman pounding millet with her pestle. To act as his representative among man and as an intermediary between man and the forces of nature, Dobweni sent his son, Do.
Although Do is androgynous, both male and female, it is most frequently represented as male. Do represents the bush and its life-giving force, for the Bwa still depend on the bush for game and gathered food. He shows himself as the source of plant life and the power that gives fruit to man's work in the fields. Do is concerned with all ceremonies that insure the renewal of life.
Do is represented by an iron bull-roarer that is called aliwe "he weeps" or linyisan "he makes a sound". "The man who carries this Do whirls it about his head. The sound that is produced is low and vibrating: it is the voice of Do (dotanu). Do is also represented by masks bieni, made exclusively of wild plants (stalks, grass, and leaves), because they must not resemble the creations of man.
The religious leader is an earth priest, the labie, who is the oldest male member of the clan that first occupied the land on which the village is established. The congregation of Do is a major cohesive force in the traditional Bwa community, providing the congregationural bonding that makes the Bwa a unified ethnic group.
Leaf masks, called bieni, that represent the spirit Do among the Bwa are used throughout Bwa country, in the north and south as well (photo ). In the most southern area called kademba, near the gurunsi, inhabited by the "scarred-Bwa" or nyaynegay, people use the wooden masks for which the Bwa are famous. Wooden masks represent spirit characters in family myths and have nothing to do with Do. 
Leaf masks are born in the bush, early in the morning, when young initiates of the congregation gather vines and the leaves of the karite tree, a symbol of fertility. The mask assistants, who do not perform, wrap the body of the performer in vines from head to toe. The performer may no longer speak, for speech is a human skill.
As among the Bobo, from whom the Bwa acquired the congregation of Do, the mask performance consists primarily of a rapid spinning which represents the creative power of God. 
Do and the masks that embody him are concerned with life and new growth, and not with death, so that these masks rarely participate in funerals. However, leaf masks, which are very sacred, may appear briefly to honor the deceased if he belonged to a clan that used leaf masks. The major contexts in which leaf masks appear are initiations and village purification or renewal ceremonies called loponu.
The performer becomes Do, and performs in rites that represent the dependence of man on the forces of nature for life. In this way "the human community is reintroduced to the cycle of nature, and therefor renews its forces, through the image of the vegetation that is reborn each year" (Capron 1957:104).
Men pay visits to the sacred places in the village, sanctuaries of Do, ancestral shrines on which the village chief and the priest of Do make numerous sacrifices. At the end of the ceremony, the leaf masks enter the village in a procession that includes all of the men and women of the clans that are adherents of Do. Each compound of the eldest man of each clan is visited in turn, before the masks emerge from the village to perform in the fields.
Initiation: In the north, initiation into the congregation of Do begins at a very early age, and continues into adult life with frequent and numerous steps. In this area, Bwa and Bobo society are so closely linked that the organization and purpose of initiation into the congregation of Do in the two groups is strikingly similar. With increasing knowledge, boys and young men are introduced to masks of leaves and of fibers.
Only in the kademba ¾¾ the extreme southern Bwa area inhabited by the scarred Bwa ¾¾ the Nieniegay, do the Bwa use the great wooden plank masks for which they have been known in surveys of African art (photo ). These southern Bwa acquired wooden masks from their eastern neighbors, the Nunuma (photo - ), Nuna, and Winiama (photo ) sometime shortly before the arrival of the French in 1897. The wooden mask traditions among the southern Bwa are recent.
Bwa wooden masks represent a number of spirit characters in the myths of their families and clans. Masks represent spirits that took the forms of numerous animals including the antelope, bush buffalo, monkey, and bush pig. Water-dwellers include the crocodile, and fish of several types are included. The serpent, and insects including the butterfly appear, as do birds including hawks and vultures. Several human characters appear, including the leper, and the crazy man and his wife. Other masks represent bush spirits that take supernatural forms.
As among neighboring Voltaic groups, Bwa wooden mask performances emphasize the impersonation of the spirit character depicted by the mask.
In contrast to the leaf masks dedicated to Do, which are used in a congregation that unifies the Bwa in their belief in a common creator, wood masks are very family oriented, and are used only by the southern Bwa.
Wooden Bwa masks function in many of the same ways masks function among the Nunuma and Winiama. They play an important role in initiations of young men and women, appear at burials and later at a memorial services. Masks appear at annual renewal ceremonies. Masks appear at many other events during the dry season, including the introduction of newly carved masks and market day dances. Celebrations, funerals, and initiations are organized by individual clans, and rather than unifying the members of a village community, they are actually divisive, for clans compete to give the most elaborate and innovative performances.
Among the Bwa there is a basic and deeply rooted conflict between the Mande congregation of Do and the use of wooden masks on the Voltaic pattern. Bwa oral traditions make it clear that the use of leaf masks representing Do is a very ancient practice and that originally all Bwa clans were adherents of Do and used leaf masks. Clans that use the bieni leaf masks state emphatically that those who use wooden nwamba masks have borrowed the practice from the Nunuma and Winiama to the east. In regions where they exist in the same community, especially in the south, they often comprise rival congregations and never appear together at the same ceremony at the same time, and in some villages never dance on the same day.
In many southern villages, notably Dossi and Bagassi, clans using each type live side by side. Those who have continued to honor Do with leaf masks look on the adoption of wooden masks as heresy and as an attempt to wrest religious authority from its traditional source, the local earth-priest. They have instituted strict prohibitions that prevent members of wooden-mask clans from participating in rites of Do. Clans that have adopted wooden masks and their magic from the Winiama and Nunuma are aggressive and proselytizing. Songs that accompany the nwamba performances often insult the clans that persist in using leaf masks, and refer to them as filthy primitives. As a result, fights frequently break out between these clans that have, in the past, resulted in the intervention of the local military police. This has occured in both Bagassi and Dossi. In Bagassi the Nyumu family has acquired the use of wooden masks from the east, while the Ye family continues to use leaf masks for the congregation of Do. The members of the two families constitute the two major factions in the village, taunting each other in the streets, engaging in brawls in local bars, and shouting insults from the sidelines during performances of rival families' masks. This conflict between traditions that are, in turn, Mande and Voltaic in origin, reflect the clash of conservative and innovative traditions on the larger scale in central Burkina Faso. The older, more established tradition is Mande ¾¾ the congregation of Do ¾¾ while the newer, innovative tradition in the south is the congregation of wooden masks acquired from the Voltaic Nunuma and Winiama.
In contrast, masks in the northern and northwestern areas of Bwa country participate peacefully in the congregation of Do. In the north, the use of wooden masks was acquired from the Bobo, to the west, rather than from Voltaic groups in the east, as is the case in the southern Kademba area. Here leaf masks integrate man into his natural environment in the spring, when farmers leave their villages to work in the fields. Wooden masks, in contrast, reintegrate man into village society following the harvest, when farmers must return to village society and conform to rules for correct social behavior. Wooden masks serve as agents for social control in these villages. Masks of leaves and other wild-growing materials represent nature, while masks carved of wood with costumes of cultivated fibers represent village culture in the nature/culture balance that is basic to Bwa world view.
The Dafing are an intrusive Mande people who also call themselves Marka, and are closely related to the Marka Soninke in Mali between the border with Burkina Faso and the banks of the Bani River.
150,000 Dafing live in Burkina. They speak a Mande language.
The Dafing are descendants of the ancient empire of Ghana, which was defeated in 1076 by the Moroccan Almoravids. The Dafing occupy a region of north-central Burkina Faso between the cities of Nouna and Tougan in the north, south as far as Boromo. There is an important concentration of Dafing villages along the valley of the Sourou River. The Dafing moved into an area occupied by the Samo and Bwa soon after 1600 as a result of the destruction of the Mali Empire in the valley of the Niger and Bani. The valley of the Sourou, which joins the Black Volta just north of Dedougou, seems to have been the primary route followed by the Dafing when they penetrated the area they now occupy.
The Dafing are typical of groups that have penetrated the upper basin of the Volta Rivers and adopted the cultural institutions of peoples they encountered, superimposing the traditions of these peoples over older beliefs, forms, and styles.
In contrast to the leaderless groups among whom they settled, the Dafing created small-scale, politically centralized states, with a chief in charge of several villages. The position of village chief was achieved, rather than inherited: an elder who had demonstrated his skill as a warrior, trader, and diplomat was selected from a council of local lineage elders. During the 18th and 19th centuries such a state, centered at Ouahabou encompassed several southern Bwa and Winiama villages and extorted taxes from the conquered peoples (Tauxier 1912:409-13).
Dafing merchants have specialized in trade in cloth, salt, beef cattle, and (formerly) slaves, that were sent south to Ghana and Ivory Coast in exchange for gold and kola nuts. Slaves and gold from the gurunsi and Lobi areas were also traded north to San, Segou, and Jenne. Dafing merchants carried salted fish from the Niger, Bani, Sourou, and Black Volta Rivers to the forest areas in the south. Vegetable butter from the karite was carried south in large quantities to trade for kola nuts, but this trade ceased with the development of the palm oil industry in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. 
The people in rural Dafing villages are predominantly traditional animists. Like the Nunuma, the Dafing, especially in the remote hill villages between Bagassi and Safane, are feared and respected by their neighbors as dangerous and powerful magicians.
Dafing masks are a stylistic pastiche: a blend of the sculptural styles of their Mande relatives in Mali and the decorative styles of their Voltaic neighbors in Burkina. The face is oval, with a heavy, horizontal brow and a large, straight nose (photo ). The intersection of the nose and brow forms a very distinctive "T". The planes of the cheeks are flat, with the small, square eyes placed high in the angle of the nose and brow. The ears are large and extend horizontally like handles, and the mouth protrudes, just above a broad, triangular beard. The face is surmounted by a crest that may be complex, including crescents, short dentate planks, or a pair of horns that frame an animal form. This crest curves toward the back. These style traits are very similar to the characteristics of Mande style masks, especially the n'domo masks of the Bamana.
Over the basic Mande sculptural forms are superimposed distinctively Voltaic geometric patterns, including triangles, chevrons, checkerboards, and especially the "Voltaic target motif". The decorative patterns are colored red, black, and white resulting in a much more colorful palette than is common in Mande sculpture. These very typical masks are called barafu, and have often been misattributed to the Bobo.
The Dafing also use masks of leaves (koro) and straw (photo ) that are very similar to the Bwa leaf masks of Do.  I suspect that the leaf mask tradition was carried into the valley of the Sourou by the Dafing when they penetrated the Bwa area. 
Although Dafing wood mask formal characteristics are typically Mande, the use and meaning of masks conforms to stereotypes in central Burkina. As among all groups in Burkina, masks are family oriented, with each clan taking responsibility for the carving of masks that represent animal and supernatural characters in the clan's histories. Like the Bobo, and in contrast to the Bwa, a single clan can use masks of wood or of leaves. The wood and leaf masks never dance together, although they may appear on the same day for the same event. Leaf masks represent Do, the spirit of the bush and of plant life. Masks in wood must open and close every mask performance. Masks of wood represent spirits from the bush that watch over the families and protect them from sorcery. Dafing wood and leaf masks appear at annual renewal or village purification ceremonies, at funerals of male and female elders  · and at the initiations of young boys. There are no secret associations.
The congregation of Dwo originated with Mande speakers in western Burkina and has spread to the east, into the Voltaic area, because of Bwa openness and receptivity to change. The Bwa acquired Do from the Bobo, and it spread throughout Bwa lands. No other Voltaic group in Burkina Faso adheres to the congregation of Do. Wooden masks were acquired from the eastern neighbors of the Bwa, the Nunuma and the Winiama. Again, this borrowing of traditions from neighboring groups is typical of Bwa receptivity to change. The conflict among the Bwa between families that are conservative and adhere to the congregation of Do, and families that are open to change and have acquired wooden masks from the Nunuma and the Winiama reflects the broader tensions between continuity and change in Burkina.
One intrusive Mande group ¾¾ the Dafing, brought Do into Burkina when they immigrated into the valley of the Sourou. There they came under the influence of Voltaic groups, and acquired wooden mask styles from the Nunuma and Winiama, superimposing Voltaic patterns in red, white and black over Mande sculptural forms.
The movement of the congregation of Do in Burkina Faso can be mapped through the study of masking traditions in leaves and wood. The objects themselves provide clues to the processes that peoples have undergone through history in their transformation into the peoples we now know.
 The original text of this paper was presented at the Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association Denver, Colorado, November 21, 1987, for a panel titled "Exploring the Lands of Do" chaired by...
 I use the spellings published by Le Moal for the Bobo (Dwo) and Capron for the Bwa (Do) to remind the reader that we are concerned with two closely related congregations that preserve notable differences in belief, and that the information I use is drawn from two equally important first-hand sources.
 A great deal of confusion on the part of scholars of Voltaic culture has arisen from the practice of early French ethnographers (especially Tauxier) of referring to the Bwa as Bobo or Bobo-Oulˇ, with the implication that they are related to the Bobo-Fing. The term "Bobo-Oulˇ" is a Jula name given to the Bwa.
 There are three groups of people in the region who have been called Bobo: the Bobo-Fing, the Bobo-Oule, and the Bobo-Nieniegue. The first are the true Bobo and do not recognize any relationship with the Bwa. The latter two comprise the Bwa, and are quite distinct from the Bobo. The "Bobo-Oule" (Red Bobo in Jula) call themselves Bwa. The southern Bwa are called nyaynegay (or nieniegue) "scarred Bwa" because of the elaborate scars applied to their faces and bodies. The southern Bwa live in the region called the Kademba. Only these southern Bwa use masks of wood.
 Both Guy Le Moal and Jean Capron seem to agree that the Bobo and the Bwa should be considered to be distinct ethnic groups, who have drawn on a common pool of religious belief, resulting in many cultural similarities. Among the most important common characteristics is the cult of Dwo represented by masks of leaves. See Capron 1973:24-32.
 "La langue des Bwa est volta•que alors que celle des Bobos est mandˇ" (Guy Le Moal cited in Capron 1973:27, fn. #8). "...il existe une coupure linguistique tr¸s profonde entre Bwa et Bobo" (Capron 1973:28). Greenberg assigns the language of the Bobo to the Voltaic family because the "Bobo" for whom he had word lists were the Bwa, who are, in fact, Voltaic.
 Among the earliest changes imposed on the Bwa by French colonialists was the cultivation of cotton in large quantities. Jean Capron has told me that the cultivation of cotton by the Bwa has contributed more to the deterioration of traditional Bwa culture than any other factor. Because the Bwa are paid individually for their crops, all cooperative labor in the fields has ceased, eradicating an essential cohesive force in Bwa society (Capron 1973:91-107).
 It is from this religious basis that Bobo resistance to change of any kind stems. The imposition of colonial rule or of a new military government from Ouagadougou all threatened that balance of the Bobo world.
 During the historic period Dwo appeared on many occasions, but to individuals and in special places that people remember to this day. These are villages whose locations are known but which no longer exist. Le Moal calls these numerous appearances "subsequent representations." Among these forms, the Bobo distinguish between the oldest, considered to be the most important, and those that appeared afterward. The first of these "subsequent representations" is, in reality, a triple form, comprising Kwele Dwo, Dwosa, and Sibe Dwo. This form is the object of numerous important cults, and the followers of these cults are called sibe. All other subsequent representations are called Dwosini.
Dwo is usually revealed to man in the form of a mask (in leaves for the original form, in fibers for later forms) as bull-roarers and other objects that are kept near the cult shrine.
 The Bobo use several words for "mask". In the north masks are called kore (sing. koro) , something that is old and venerable; in the center of Bobo country they may also be called sowiyera (sing. sowiye), "a disguised man"; in the south the word siye, "the shadow man", the double. In addition, each mask has its own, personal name.
 When I distinguish between leaf and fiber masks I refer to the materials of which the body of the performer is covered. No leaf masks have wooden heads. There are fiber masks, however, that are entirely of the fibers of the kenaf and other fiber masks that have heads of wood ¾¾ these wooden "heads of the masks" are the Bobo sculpture we see in museums.
 The performer who wears the molo mask either wears a costume of the leaves of the tabe (Isoberlina doka) and is called sibe molo, or he is nude, and is called so molo. The wooden head of the mask is always the same--only the costume changes depending on the ceremonies in which it participates. There is a third type of molo mask, the saxa molo. This is a rare, ritual mask, because it is now only used by a few lineages. The head is a slab of bark of the linguˇ. The costume is made up of leaves of the same tree.
 There are two major styles of molo masks: in the north, around Tanguna, the broad, flat planes of the face are divided vertically by a ridge that bears, in descending order, a short thick nose, a protruberant mouth placed high on the face of the mask, and an umbilicus. The eyes are rectangles. In contrast, the style of molo from Kurumani, in central Bobo country, has a very broad, square face with a long nose that divides the face vertically. The mouth is placed far down very near the chin, and is very broad and protruberant. The face is marked by slanting tribal scars (Le Moal 1980: 224, fig 18).
 This is a secondary function, and not all masks of all Bobo clans attend these rites. Masks seem to participate in funerals much more frequently in the Syankoma area in the south, near Bobo-Dioulasso, than in the north.
 The different levels of knowledge are explained to Bobo boys in several steps spread out over a period of fifteen years. Masks play an essential role in initiation because they reestablish and reinforce the cosmic order created by Wuro, and restore the balance and the rhythms of the natural world and of the community. Each of the new steps in the initiation is punctuated by important ceremonies when the initiates dance with several types of masks.
 In the region around Bobo-Dioulasso, where I have attended mask performances, wooden masks spin wildly, almost seeming to be out of control, from one side of the open dance area to the other, and then back. The climax of each mask's performance is a tour-de-force rotation of the mask alone, when the performer plants his feet firmly and twists his torso and neck, grasping the small handle that protrudes from the chin of the mask or a band of fiber that is knotted inside the chin. The wooden head of the mask rotates two or three revolutions, then returns, in such a way that the mask may leave the performer's head and is only kept from flying across the performance area by the dancer's tight grip on it. It is quite common to see clearly the performer's head and torso. In the south the performances of fiber masks are the most athletic: unencumbered by a heavy mask of wood, the performers leap across the dance area like gymnasts, executing forward flips, cartwheels, and handsprings.
 I have seen Bwa plank masks bearing the image of Mami Wata in the southern Bwa towns of Boni, Dossi, and Pa,
 Leaf masks are made of wild vines that are wrapped around the body tightly enough that the costume will not slip, but loosely enough that the performer's movements will not be restricted. To this wrapping of vines are bound small bundles of green leaves so that every inch of the human body is concealed. A crest of dried grasses called bwosonu (Loudetia togoensis) is bound to the head, or in some villages may be made of white "eagle" feathers gathered in the bush.
 During a leaf-mask performance I attended in Bagassi in 1983, the masks of the Ye clan danced beneath a great tamarind tree in the dry dusty fields in which cotton is planted. Each mask spun wildly, leaping and thrusting his arms wide in an athletic pirouette. The feathers that formed the masks' crests often were dislodged by the spinning dance and fluttered to the ground, to be gathered quickly by a young boy wearing a carved wooden pendant representation of Do incarnated as a leaf mask. Following the mask performance, at sunset, the leaf masks return to the bush where their assistants cut the vines and burn the entire leaf costume, saving only the white feathers that form the crest.
 I would like to speculate that the Dafing and the Jula, including the Jula of Kong, share a common origin, and that the trade each group carries on stems from common needs and common accessibilty of markets.
 Dafing leaf masks that I have seen from Mana, just north of Bagassi, are very similar in style to the leaf masks of the northern Bwa near Dedougou. Rather than a crest of feathers and a protruberant cylindrical mouth, as in Boni and Bagassi. Dafing leaf masks have a large circular, sagittal crest of thick dried grass.
 In The Art of the Upper Volta Rivers (1987) I said "I suspect that the leaf mask tradition was adopted by the Dafing from the Bwa when they penetrated the Bwa area." Although there is evidence for either solution, it seems most logical that, as a Mande group, the Dafing brought the use of leaf masks to represent Do with them when they penetrated the valley of the Sourou.
 In February, 1983 I attended the funeral of a male elder of a Dafing family named Tamani in the Bwa village of Banu, near Bagassi. Four leaf masks and two wooden masks from Mana participated in the funeral to honor the deceased and send his spirit on its journey to the land of ancestors. The leaf masks appeared early in the morning, arriving from the bush east of the village. Each mask was called by drummers, and was greeted by young men of the clan. Each mask danced in turn on the tomb before everyone left the compound for a performance in the open area in front of the Tamani home.
Late in the afternoon, two masks of wood emerged from a straw enclosure at the center of the village and repeated the actions of the leaf masks. A mask with a crocodile framed by curving horns, named bamba, accompanied by an antelope mask (ghun), performed in the courtyard and on the tomb of the deceased. The oldest son of the deceased followed holding a framed photograph of his father as a young husband surrounded by his wives and children. Just before sundown the wood masks made their way up the rocky path toward their home village of Mana, ending the ceremonies for the day.