African art > African mask > Punu Mask

Punu Okuyi Mask (N° 19030)

Among the variety of Punu African masks, this one, carved in heavy wood, has a single central shell framed with comforters and has stretched lips and crescent-shaped incised eyelids. These white masks from Gabon named bitengi (sing.: itengi) were used especially during funerals and during the initiations of young boys. Residues encrusted with kaolin, eroded outline.
They were associated with the various secret societies of Gabon, including the Bwiti, Bwete, and the Mwiri ("to lead"), the latter being spread over several levels of initiation, to which all Punu men belonged, and whose emblem was the caiman. The Punu did not use any mask 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 dance of the Okuyi on stilts, which is still the most widespread. This kaolin bleached face mask, evocative of a dead woman, was displayed during the dance called Okuyi, where the dancer, equipped with a flypaper, was draped with a garment hiding his identity from the public.  

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Originex-collection néerlandaise
EthnyPunu
Countrygabon
Material(s)wood
Height34
Width25
Weight1.50 Kg
Estimated dating2ème halfxx°
Socle inclusOptional

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