African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Tschokwe Mask
Chokwe Mwana pwo Mask (N° 19674)
Ex-collection African tribal art from Monaco.
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The African masks Chokwe pwo, among the many masks akishi (sing: mukishi, indicating power) of African tribal art Chokwe, are exclusively female representations that were accompanied by accessories and adornments. It is here accessorized with a fishnet and a hairstyle made of vegetal fibers.
Joined to their male counterparts, cihongo recognizable by their large tray-shaped headdress, the pwo should bring fertility and prosperity to the community.
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.
This recurring cruciform frontal motif is also said to have cosmogonic significance.
Always worn by higher-ranking initiates, these female masks were often adorned with buttons and accessories of European origin. Pointed teeth were once a criterion of beauty.
These masks were mainly worn during initiation ceremonies of passage to adulthood, marking among other things the end of the privileged bond between a son and his mother. A solid basketry frame is filled with raffia curls forming a realistic hairstyle. It is prolonged at the back of articulated sticks. A crown of cowries, symbols of fertility, delimits the forehead. Satin orange-brown patina.
(source: Chokwe, B. Wastiau)
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