Lot: 390

Young maiden mask "mwana pwo"

D. R. Congo, Chokwe

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
Valluet-Ferrandin, Paris, France (2001) H: 11.8 inch 7000 EUR / 12000 EUR

wood, reddish brown patina, black paint, plant fibre, red pigment, remains of net-like costume, metal earring (right one missing), collection number "2954" backside, min. dam., paint rubbed off in parts, base. The elaborate coiffure on this mask takes the form of the mud-packed wigs that were favoured by Chokwe women. The facial scarification marks below the eyes represent tears, which may refer to the anguish mothers feel when they are ritually separated from their sons during "mukanda" initiation. Pwo", literally meaning "woman", is a Chokwe mask character, representing a primordial female ancestor. The mask performs social dances to highlight the beauty, morality, and abilities associated with women. The mask appears on different ceremonial occasions, with the "mukanda"male initiation as its primary venue. It is exclusively danced by men. Women will commonly dance alongside the character, to challenge the performer's skill and to make sure that the steps and movements or actions honour them appropriately and sufficiently.

Fagaly, William, Ancestors of Congo Square, New Orleans 2011, p. 318 f.
Hasselt, Primitive Art, Wittepoppentoren 1971, nr. 1; 4e Valluet-Ferrandin, Salon International d'Art Tribal, Paris, 2001, p. 53