African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Punu mask
Punu Okuyi mask (N° 21838)
The white masks of Gabon, itengi , (pl. Bitengi) are generally distinguished by their shell hairstyle and checkerboard scarifications, mabinda , tinted with red ocher. These marks, here linear, are attributed to the Tsengi and Ndzébi of the Punu-Bakaya region. A chin strap enhances the contours of the face.
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Abraded matte patina.
In the first art, this tribal mask from Gabon was associated with the various secret societies of Gabon, including the Bwiti , Bwete , and the Mwiri ("lead"), the latter spreading over several levels of initiation, to which all Punu men belonged, and whose emblem was the caiman. The punu did not involve any mask in the rituals of Bwiti, unlike the Tsogo. These powerful secret societies, which also had a judicial function, featured several dances, including the Leopard Dance, Esomba , Mukuyi , and < i> Okuyi , on stilts, remaining the most common. This kaolin-white face mask, evoking a deceased woman, was exhibited during the dance called Okuyi .
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