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Tribal art > African mask > Punu mask

Punu mask (N° 22787)

Among the wide variety of African masks Punu, this example is topped with curved shells. Beautifully symmetrical, it illustrates the refinement of the bitengi (sing.: itengi) masks that were produced in Gabon during funerals and initiations of young boys.
Matte patina, pink ocher highlights, cracks and erosions.
The masks of the Punu were associated with the various secret societies of Gabon, including the Bwiti, Bwete, and the Mwiri ("to lead"), the latter spanning several levels of initiation, to which all Punu men belonged, and whose the emblem was the caiman. The Punus did not involve any mask in Bwiti rituals, unlike the Tsogo. These powerful secret societies, which also had a judicial function, included several dances, including the leopard dance, the Esomba, the Mukuyi, and the dance of the Okuyi, on stilts, remaining the most widespread. This whitewashed kaolin face mask, evoking a deceased woman, was exhibited during the dance called Okuyi, where the dancer, equipped with a fly swatter, was draped in a garment concealing his identity in the eyes of the public.  


This item is sold with its certificate of authenticity

Estimated shipping cost

OriginCollection Patrick Malisse
Height cm30
Width20 cm
Weight0.70 Kg
Estimated datingcirca 1960
Socle inclusOptional

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