African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Punu Mask
Punu Okuyi Mask (N° 19718)
This African mask from Gabon, itengi, (pl. bitengi) is topped with double hulls, made up of braided hair behind a frontal band, dividing on either side of a median stripe. The specificity of this mask consists of a long lateral braid running along the face. These African masks of Gabon were associated with the various secret societies of Gabon, including the Bwiti , Bwete , and the Mwiri ("directing"),the latter of which ranged in several levels of initiation, to which all Punu men belonged, and whose emblem was the cayman. The Punu did not use any masks in the Bwiti rituals, unlike the Tsogo. These powerful secret societies, which also had a judicial function, included several dances, of which the leopard dance, the Esomba ,the Mukuyi, and the Okuyi dance, on stilts, remained the most widespread. This kaolin-bleached face mask, an evocation of a deceased woman, was displayed during the dance named Okuyi . It lacks the checkerboard scarifications, mabinda, keloids associated, according to some authors, with the nine clans that founded the Kongo kingdom.
Locally abraded matte patina.
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