Among the many African masks akishi (sing: mukishi, indicating power) of African tribal art Chokwe, the powerful male counterpart of the Mwana Pwo mask is the cihongo. These masks are danced by itinerant professionals.
Engraved patterns are part of the Chokwe aesthetic canons but also served as public markers of ethnic identity.
This recurring cruciform motif would also have a cosmogonic meaning.
Always worn by dancers of royal blood, this mask embodying a spirit symbolizes power and wealth. He also occasionally intervened in judgments.
Polychrome patina, abrasions.
The masks of the Chokwe, Luda, Luvale/Lwena, Luchazi and Mbunda clans are called "makishi" (sing. likishi) in Zambia. This name comes from "kishi", a Bantu concept that evokes the manifestation of a spirit or an ancestor. These agents of social, moral and spiritual order, forming a panel of different characters, sociable, aggressive, or unpredictable, in fact embody the spirit of an illustrious ancestor (male or female), their appearance manifesting itself mainly during rites mukanda, including circumcision, during which their true identity must remain hidden from the eyes of the profane. Their accessories and their behavior, depending on the case, symbolize moral values, highlight fertility, or even parody strangers.
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