This unusual African mask is one of the stylistic variants of the white masks of the Gabon, itengi , (pl. bitengi) offering a subtle model. In early art, this tribal mask from Gabon was associated with the various secret societies of Gabon, including the Bwiti , Bwete , and the Mwiri ("le"), the latter spreading into several levels of initiation, to which belonged to all the men Punu, and whose emblem was the caiman. The punu did not involve any masks in the rituals of the Bwiti, dedicated to ancestors, unlike the Tsogo . These powerful secret societies, which also had a judicial function, included several dances, including the leopard dance, the Esomba, the Mukuyi, and the dance of the Okuyi, on stilts, remaining the most widespread. This kaolin-bleached face mask, evoking a deceased woman, was displayed at the dance called Okuyi . Classically styled with one of the variants of traditional hairstyles punu and tsogho , made of braided shells, this mask here has a lateral growth evoking a thick braid and in this case acting as a handle in order to keep the object in front of the face. The kaolin forms a thick white, velvety patina, locally abraded, on the entire face. Restoration from the previous owner.
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