Chokwe Mask flag

Chokwe Mask
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Object description :

"Chokwe Mask"
Worn by a man who mimics women's dance and teaches them grace in ways. The female ancestor's "Pwo" mask is still worn by men whom he transforms into powerful beings. Their exhibition in front of the village assembly has a magical character: they bring prosperity and fertility. But, mastered by sorcerers, they can become evil “wanga”. Acquiring a mask is a kind of mystical marriage. The dancer gives the sculptor a copper ring, the symbolic price of the "fiancée". This marriage imposes moral and ritual obligations; violating them results in wrath of the ancestor's spirit and punishment attributed to his magic. After the dancer's death, the mask is often buried due to superstitious fear. We bury it in an isolated and marshy place. A bracelet signifying the return of the "dowry" is placed near the mask. In the same way, the dancer buries a mask which can no longer be used. The exhibition of the female mask "Pwo" dispenses fertility to spectators. He sometimes dances with a statuette representing a child carried on the back of his mother. The dancer disguised as a woman wears false breasts, a cotton skirt and a heavy beaded belt in the shape of a crescent. He is holding a rattle and a fly swatter. The dance consists of back movements punctuated by the hopping of the belt. By studying the serious allure and the elegant gestures of "Pwo", women would learn grace in ways. The mask must be carved according to standards, and reflect the collective idea of the ancestral spirits. Some masks, however, are individualized; the sculptor then takes a certain freedom as to the proportions and facial features (shape of the nose, mouth or ears). The artist is inspired by the physiognomy of a woman admired for her beauty. Since he has to work away from female looks, he observes his model for a long time, often for many days, the time it takes him to memorize his features. The woman's tattoos and hairstyle also inspire the sculptor. "Cihongo" and "Pwo" often appear together, as protectors, on the back of chairs. Most often, the "Pwo" mask is symbolized by an engraved macaron or in bas-relief on sticks, combs, sanza.
Price : 3000 €
Artist : 3000
Period:20th Century
Style:Tribal Art
Condition : Patine d'usure

Material : Bois et cordelette
Width : 17
Height : 19
Depth : 17

Reference : 560301
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