Field-photo of the day: the Mossi wood carver Raogo Sawadogo

The Mossi wood carver Roago Sawadogo, photographed in Sini in 1984. Published in Roy (C. D.) & Wheelock (T. G.B.), "Land of the Flying Masks. Art and Culture in Burkina Faso. The Thomas G.B. Wheelock Collection", Munich, 2007: p. 41, fig. 10. Image courtesy of Thomas Wheelock.

The Mossi wood carver Roago Sawadogo, photographed in Sini in 1984. Image courtesy of Thomas G.B. Wheelock.

This must be one of my favorite photos of a traditional African sculptor at work. Casually supporting the unfinished block of wood by holding one of the graciously curving horns, Raogo is about to strike his sharp iron adze. The determination and confidence that radiates from his face tell about his mastery of his tools and skills as a sculptor.

This photo was published in Thomas Wheelock’s book on his private collection, Land of the Flying Masks. Art and Culture in Burkina Faso (Munich, 2007: p. 41, fig. 10) – a must read for anyone interested in the art of the country. In a paragraph about “artists” Wheelock for example reveals the following interesting bit of information:

My experience in the art market in Burkina Faso has been that the deeper the scars are carved, and the higher the relief, the more likely it is that the mask was carved for an African patron and not for the tourist trade. Deeper scars are the product of greater time and care committed to the carving.

Something to remember !