African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Punu mask
Punu, Pounou, Okuyi mask (N° 21583)
Serenity of African masks of Okuyi dances
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The white masks of Gabon, itengi, (pl. bitengi) were associated with the various secret societies of Gabon, including the Bwiti, Bwete , and the Mwiri ("directing"),the latter of which ranged through several levels of initiation, and to which all Punu men belonged,and whose emblem was the caiman.
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. Classically topped with a double top shell, and two small side bonnets, the distinguishing feature however remains the checkered scarifications, mabinda, tinted with red ochre, present on the forehead and temples. These keloid marks are said by some authors to be associated with the nine clans that founded the Kongo kingdom.
Abraded matte patina, slight lacks.
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