African art > Mask > Chokwe Mask

Chihongo Chokwe Mask (N° 14687)

This mask pendant Pwo , always worn by dancers of royal descent, is also used during the initiation rites of the society mukanda . From the sculpted bandeau in relief, engraved with parallel lines, rises a feathered headdress that a necklace of glass beads delimits. A hood woven from vegetable fibres is attached to it, having to conceal the neck of the wearer. Large eyeballs recall the inverted volumes of the mouth and discoid chin. The sacred mask Chihongo (chihongo also a plant with therapeutic properties), with a large grimacing mouth, is used in circumcision rites and royal ceremonies. 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, such as the chingelyengelye cross and solar discs. The recurrent cruciform frontal pattern would also have a cosmogonic meaning.
Peacefully settled in eastern Angola until the 16th century, the Chokwé were then subjected to the Lunda empire from which they inherited a new hierarchical system and the sanctity of power. Nevertheless, the Chokwes never fully embraced these new social and political contributions. Three centuries later, they eventually seized the capital of Lunda weakened by internal conflicts, thus contributing to the dismantling of the kingdom. The Chokwe did not have centralized power but great chiefdoms. They were the ones who attracted artists who wanted to put their know-how at the exclusive service of the court. The artists created so many varied and quality pieces that the Lunda court employed only them. (source: Chokwe, B. Wastiau)  

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Originex-collection espagnole
Material(s)wood, plumes, perles, plant fibre
Weight0.08 Kg
Estimated dating2ème halfxx°
Socle inclusOptional

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