African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Chokwe mask
Chokwe Mukishi wa Cihongo mask (N° 20557)
Among the many African akishi (sing: mukishi, indicating power) masks of Chokwe African tribal art, the powerful male counterpart of the Mwana Pwo mask is the cihongo . These miniature masks are worn on costumes or initiation headdress.
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The characteristic patterns present 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 recurring cruciform frontal motif is also thought to have cosmogonic significance.
Always worn by dancers of royal blood, this mask incarnating a spirit symbolizes power and wealth. It was also sometimes used during judgments.
Brown satin patina, cracks.
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 ancestor. These agents of social, moral and spiritual order, forming a panel of different characteristics, sociable, aggressive, or unpredictable, embody the spirit of an illustrious ancestor (male or female), their appearance is mainly manifested during the rites of mukanda, including circumcision, during which their true identity must remain hidden from the eyes of the layman. Their accessories and behavior, depending on the case, symbolize moral values, promote fertility, or parody strangers.
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