Africa Direct
Africa Direct

Chokwe Mask Mwana Pwo Female Congo African Art

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Title Chokwe Mask Mwana Pwo Female Congo African Art
Type of Object Face Mask
Country of Origin DR Congo, Angola, Zambia
People Chokwe, Chockwe
Materials Wood
Approximate Age 20th century
Dimensions 11 inches H. 6.25 inches W.
Overall Condition Good. Most of our pieces have spent decades on at least two continents, and have been treasured by several owners.   Small splits, scrapes and cracks are a normal part of their patina attesting to their age and extensive use.  We examine each piece carefully when we receive it and report any damage we find in our listings.  Please look carefully at the pictures which may also reveal condition and damage.

Additional Information:

This superb carved mask is the work of a remarkable sculptor with great skills and artistry. It is a semi-helmet mask with an elaborate woman’s headdress. The face shows beautiful scarification patterns with diamond circular patterns on temples, cheecks, on under eyes and on chin, and the typical cruciform scarifcation on forehead.

This mask comes from the Chokwe people who are members of a large culture cluster living today in central Angola, parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Zambia. This cluster is composed of a number of distinct but related peoples, the most prominent of which are the Chokwe, but the cluster also includes the Lunda, Ovimbundu, Lwena, Luvala, Mbwela, and Imbangala. As a result of the complex interaction of people the region has shared stylistic elements and figural forms based upon shared mythologies and ritual practices. Masks were used during Munkanda initiation rites for young boys and the Uyanga society, the men’s hunting association that instructed young boys in the hunt and also advanced men through a series of endurance tests. Other men’s asking societies appeared at funerals. Among the Chokwe dances are also the means to publicly demonstrate appropriate conduct and correct social behavior. During one version of a Munkada dance a masked figure known as Pwo, a Chokwe ancestor, representing an adult female, mature and beautiful who is dignified and spiritual reflecting all the positive attributes of an ideal woman who can serve as a Chokwe role model. This Pwo mask is carved with great attention to detail in defining exquisite facial features and a headdress delicately attached to the carved face.

See Jordan, and al. Chokwe!