Tribal art > African mask > Punu mask
Punu mask (N° 22006)
The tapered volumes of capillary shells, as if balanced on the head of this punu mask, crown a face constructed in graceful curves, delimited by a diamond-shaped collar. A tricolor patina, abraded by time, enhances the peaceful features of this young woman's face.
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Height on base: 50 cm.
The white masks of Gabon, itengi, (pl. bitengi) were associated with the various secret societies of Gabon, including the Bwiti, Bwete, and the Mwiri ("to lead"), the latter ranging in several levels of initiation, to which all Punu men belonged, and whose emblem was the caiman (hence, for some, the saurian scale motif). The mask, evocation of a deceased young woman, was exhibited during the dance named Okuyi. The powerful secret societies, which also had a judicial function, featured several dances, including the leopard dance, the Esomba, the Mukuyi or the Okuyi depending on the place, acrobatic dance on stilts, remaining the most widespread. In some villages, at dawn or dusk, the Okuyi was accompanied by songs in an esoteric language that only initiates could understand. (Punu, L. Perrois and C. Grand-Dufay)
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|Origin||Collection Patrick Malisse|
|Estimated dating||1ère halfxx°|
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