African art > Mask > Tchokwe Mask

Chokwe Mask (N° 13798)

Ex-Swiss African art collection.
The African Chokwe pwo masks, among the many masks akishi (sing: mukishi , indicating the power) of African tribal art Chokwe, are exclusively female representations that were accompanied by accessories and adornments. Joined to their male counterparts, cihongo recognizable by their large plateau-shaped headdress, pwo must bring fertility and prosperity to the community. The cultural logic of these two icons developed during the pre-colonial period continues to inspire artists in north-eastern Angola. The characteristic patterns 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 meaning.
Always worn by higher-ranking insiders, these female masks were often emblazoned with buttons and accessories of European origin. Cutting teeth used to be a beauty criterion.
These masks were mainly worn during the initiation ceremonies of passage to the adult state, marking among other things the end of the privileged bond between a son and his mother. The checkered scarifications on the cheeks refer to the mother's grief. A wicker frame, hidden by a raffia canvas attached to the mask by upholstery nails, forms a thick helmet itself lined with colorful cotton braids. This small mask has a wooden beaded handle that supported it and presented it to spectators during ritual ceremonies. Erosions of wood, dark brown satin patina with reddish reflections. (source: Chokwe, B. Wastiau)  

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Originex-collection suisse
EthnyChokwe
CountryRDC
Material(s)wood, raphia, coton, metal
Height20
Width20
Weight0.70 Kg
Estimated datingmid xxe
Socle inclusOptional

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