African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Tsengi Mask
Tsengi/Punu Ikwara Mask (N° 19149)
According to Alisa LaGamma, this African mask from Gabon, intended for the dance ikwara was used during difficult palavers. This dark-colored mask of justice danced on small stilts. It is topped with crepe shells that men wore in Punu-Bayaka country at the beginning of the 20th century.
("Punu" L. Perrois and C. Grand-Dufay, p.57, ed. 5Continents) The scarifications extend horizontally the eyelids and the corners of the lips. Some white masks of the Punu were however repainted in black for the dance ikwara .
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Abraded matte patina, erosions.
The masks of Gabon, itengi, (pl. bitengi) were associated with the various secret societies of Gabon, including the Bwiti, Bwete, and the Mwiri ("to lead") ,the latter being spread over several levels of initiation, to which all Punu men belonged, and whose emblem was the caiman. The Punu did not use any mask in the rituals of the Bwiti, unlike the Tsogo.
These powerful secret societies, which also had a judicial function, had several dances, of which the leopard dance, the Esomba dance, the Mukuyi dance and the Okuyi dance, on high stilts, remained the most widespread.
Source ( L. Perrois)
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