African art > Mask > Tschokwe Mask
Small mask Cihongo, Chihongo, Chokwe (N° 17782)
Among the many African masks akishi (sing: mukishi, indicating power) of African tribal art Chokwe, the powerful male counterpart of the Mwana Pwo mask is the cihongo . These masks are danced by itinerant professionals. The characteristic motifs on the forehead, and sometimes on the cheekbones, are part of the chokwe aesthetic canons but also served as public markers of ethnic identity. This recurrent cruciform frontal pattern would also have a cosmogonic significance. Always worn by dancers of royal blood, this mask embodying a spirit symbolizes power and wealth. He also intervened, at times, on occasion judgments. Semi-saturated brown patina, small shards. Height on a base: 30 cm.
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The masks of the Chokwe, Luda, Luvale/Lwena, Luchazi and Mbunda clans are named in Zambia as 'makishi' (sing. likishi). This name comes from 'kishi', a Bantu concept that evokes the manifestation of a spirit or ancestor. These agents of a social, moral and spiritual nature, forming a panel of different characters, sociable, aggressive, or unpredictable, embody indeed the spirit of an illustrious ancestor (male or female), their appearance manifested mainly during the rites of the mukanda, including circumcision, during which their true identity must remain hidden from the eyes of the layman. Their accessories and behaviour, depending on the case, symbolize moral values, highlight fertility, or parody strangers.
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