African art > African mask > Punu Mask
Punu Tsengui Mask (N° 18869)
African art at lez Punu.
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Contrasting with the powdery patina of kaolin, the frontal band tinted with red ochre is a characteristic of the feminine masks tsangui , tsengui, connecting this mask to the shira-punu style. A double top shell, flanked by two short side comforters, caps this piece. A thin rib raised in black is also inscribed from the temples to the nose. Abrasions.
The white masks of Gabon, itengi , (pl. bitengi) 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 (hence, for some, the saurian scaled pattern). The Punu did not use any mask in the rituals of the Bwiti, unlike the Tsogo. This object, evocative of a dead young woman, was displayed during the Okuyi dance. These powerful secret societies, which also had a judicial function, included several dances, among which the Leopard Dance, the Esomba Dance, the Mukuyi Dance or the Okuyi Dance, depending on the place, acrobatic dance on stilts, being the most widespread. In some villages, at dawn or at dusk, the Okuyi was accompanied by songs in an esoteric language that only the initiated could understand. (Punu,L. Perrois and C. Grand-Dufay)
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