African art > Mask > Chokwe Mask
Chokwe / Lwena fiber mask (N° 17456)
This mask is made up, around a wicker frame, of plant fibers solidly woven to form a flat structure supporting strokes modeled in clay materials. The whole thing is surrounded by a raffia pad, like shaggy hair. This type of mask was worn on the shoulder or by hand during ritual dances.
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As Lunda origin, the Lwena emigrated from Angola to Zaire in the 19th century, repelled by the Chokwe. When some became slave traders, other groups found refuge in Zambia, forming the Luvale, Lovale. Their society is matrilineal, exogamous and polygamous. The Lwena and Luvale became known for their sculptures embodying figures of deceased ancestors and chiefs, and their masks related to the initiation rites of the mukanda, a secret male association shared by all these groups in the same territory, with some variations, however. Their sculpture was largely influenced by that of the Chokwe. The masks of the Chokwe, Luda, Luvale/Lwena, Luchazi and Mbunda clans are named in Zambia as 'makishi' (sing. likishi). This name comes from 'kishi', a Bantu concept that evokes the manifestation of a spirit or ancestor. These agents of a social, moral and spiritual nature, forming a panel of different characters, sociable, aggressive, or unpredictable, embody indeed the spirit of an illustrious ancestor (male or female), their appearance manifested mainly during the rites of the mukanda, including circumcision, during which their true identity must remain hidden from the eyes of the layman. Their accessories and behaviour, depending on the case, symbolize moral values, highlight fertility, or parody strangers.
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|Origin||Collection belge V.C.|
|Material(s)||fibrees végétales, matières argileuses|
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