African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Punu mask

Punu mask (N° 23051)

A serene softness distinguishes the African masks of the Punu. The latter, whose braids envelop the face in its entirety, offers arched eyelids and rounded cheekbones. Velvety matte patina, 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 ranging in several levels of initiation, to which all Punu men belonged, and whose emblem was the caiman (hence, for some, the saurian scale motif). This object, evocation of a deceased young woman, was exhibited during the dance named Okuyi. These powerful secret societies, which also had a judicial function, featured several dances, including the leopard dance, the Esomba, the Mukuyi or the Okuyi depending on the place, acrobatic dance on stilts, remaining the most widespread. In some villages, at dawn or dusk, the Okuyi was accompanied by songs in an esoteric language that only initiates could understand. (Punu, L. Perrois and C. Grand-Dufay)  

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OriginEx-collection française
EthnyPunu
Countrygabon
Material(s)wood
Height cm32
Width21 cm
Weight1.05 Kg
Estimated datingfin xx°
Socle inclusOptional

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