African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Chokwe mask

Chokwe Mwana Pwo mask (N° 20548)

Braided hair and a rapahia fishnet hood for this African mask of the Chokwe with finely sculpted features. The hairstyle indeed evokes that, coated with red earth, of the Chokwe women.
Smooth mahogany brown patina.
Height on base: 43 cm. Peacefully settled in eastern Angola until the 16th century, the Chokwe were then subjected to the Lunda empire from which they inherited a new hierarchical system and the sacredness of power. Nevertheless, the Chokwe never fully adopted these new social and political contributions. Three centuries later, they eventually seized the capital of the Lunda weakened by internal conflicts, contributing to the dismantling of the kingdom. The Chokwé did not have centralized power but rather large chieftaincies. They were the ones who attracted artists eager to put their skills to the exclusive service of the court. The artists created so many varied pieces of such quality that the Lunda court employed only them. The African Chokwe pwo masks ,among the many akishi or "akixi" (sing: mukishi , indicating power)of Chokwe tribal art, are exclusively female representations that were accompanied by accessories and adornments. They were, however, worn by high-ranking men. Joined to their male counterparts, cihongo recognizable by their large, tray-shaped headdress, the pwo are meant to bring fertility and prosperity to the community. The distinctive patterns present on the forehead, and sometimes on the cheekbones, are part of the chokwe aesthetic canons, as are the pointed teeth, but also served as public markers of ethnic identity. This recurring cruciform frontal motif is furthermore thought to carry cosmogonic significance. Always worn by higher-ranking initiates, these female masks were often adorned with buttons and accessories of European origin.  

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OriginEx-collection belge
Material(s)wood, raphia
Height cm26
Width18 cm
Weight0.65 Kg
Socle includedYes

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