Ex-Belgian African art collection. The African masks Chokwe pwo, among the many masks akishi (sing: mukishi , indicating the power) of African tribal art Chokwe, are exclusively female representations. Joined to their male counterparts, cihongo recognizable by their large plateau-shaped headdress, pwo must bring fertility and prosperity to the community. The cultural logic of these two icons developed during the pre-colonial period continues to inspire artists in north-eastern Angola. The characteristic patterns on the forehead, and sometimes on the cheekbones, are part of the chokwe aesthetic canons but also served as public markers of ethnic identity. This recurrent cruciform frontal pattern would also have a cosmogonic meaning. Always worn by higher-ranking insiders, these female masks were often emblazoned with buttons and accessories of European origin. Cutting teeth used to be a beauty criterion. These masks were mainly worn during the initiation ceremonies of passage to the adult state, marking among other things the end of the privileged bond between a son and his mother. Erosions of wood, dark brown satin patina. (source: Chokwe, B. Wastiau)
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