• John Giltsoff

Mossi Ninande ancestor figure


Ancestor worship and traditional art in Burkina Faso

This African Mossi statue of the ninana type (pl. ninandé) is dedicated to the worship of the ancestors. It still shows traces of scarification that can be found on the faces of the Mossi.

Mossi ninandé statues serve as memorials for military and political leaders who established the Mossi states.

These funerary statues provide tangible form to ancestral spirits.

In the case of burials, this heavily eroded wooden ninana replaced the remains of the deceased chief.

During the year-end ancestral sacrifices called Na-poosum, the ninandé were adorned with earrings, beads and small fabric loincloths imitating the traditional female costume.

They were exhibited during these celebrations in order to invoke the spirits to act favorably towards the community.

Once the celebrations were over, the statues were stored in a hut called the kimse-roogo, the ancestral spiritual house of the chief's clan.

This Mossi statue comes from the collection of dealer John Giltsoff (1947 - 2014), Spain (see photo).
Many masterpieces passed through the hands of the latter, not only of African art, but also of Oceanic and Inuit.
He was active in London, New York, Brussels and Girona (Spain).

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Data sheet

Presumed dating
1st half XXth century
56 cm
Ethnic group
Wood, metal
Burkina Faso
John Giltsoff, Gérone (Spain)

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