Lot: 80

98th Auction

Female face mask "okuyi"

Gabon, Lumbo

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
Zemanek-Münster, Würzburg, 2 December 1996, Lot 332
Werner Zintl, Worms, Germany
H: 13 inch 3500 EUR
plus 23 % commission, VAT, transport and insurance

wood, pigments, missing parts due to insect damage on the back

This mask is one of the so-called "White Masks of the Ogooué", which were used by many ethnic groups in Gabon.

Masks "okuyi" are considered to be the image of a pretty girl who died young. They primarily performed at funeral ceremonies. The mask dancer appeared on high stilts and spoke with ghostly voice, generated by a secret instrument consisting of a small gourd.

The masks belonged to the male "mwiri" secret society. According to Perrois, they played an emblematic role during public hearings and, less obstrusively, in the boys inititation. The mask was a powerful policing instrument for keeping the women and children in a subordinate, obedient position.