African art > Mask > Punu Mask
Punu Mask (N° 16539)
Ex-collection French African art.
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Refining African masks of Okuyi dances.
The white masks of Gabon, itengi, (pl. bitengi) were associated with the various secret societies of Gabon, including the Bwiti, Bwete , and the Mwiri ("le"), the latter spread into several levels of initiation, to which all the Men Punu belonged, and whose emblem was the Caiman. The punu did not involve any masks in the rituals of the Bwiti, 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 acrobatic dance of the okuyi , on stilts, remainthe most widespread. This face mask, evoking a deceased woman, was displayed during the dance called Okuyi. It combines the mabinda sign with linear keloids on the forehead, typical of the tsangui, a Punu subgroup living in the Republic of Congo. These checkerboard scarifications, mabinda, are enhanced with reddish and brown pigment.
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