This is a Beautiful Chokwe Carved Wood Female Mask that Represents Ideal Feminine Beauty from Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo. This female mask is called Pwo, a classic Chokwe mask genre that honors founding female ancestors. Such representations are especially significant given that the Chokwe trace descent through their mothers' lines. Pwo's joint performance with her male counterpart, Cihongo, brings fertility and prosperity to a community. The cultural ideals of these two iconic representations developed during the precolonial period continue to inspire contemporary artists in the region. Inscribed motifs on the mask's forehead and cheeks are classic graphic designs that aesthetically enhanced a woman's beauty in past generations and were signs of ethnic identity. The central cruciform on the forehead has been interpreted as a cosmogram while the markings on either cheek are described as a solar disc joined by tears. Chokwe masks are often performed at the celebrations that mark the completion of initiation into adulthood. That occasion also marks the dissolution of the bonds of intimacy between mothers and their sons. The pride and sorrow that event represents for Chokwe women is alluded to by the tear motif.
Masks representing ideal young female beauty, Mwano Pwo, were danced with male counterparts, Cihongo, during initiation ceremonies and other important occasions to bring fertility and prosperity to the village. Most share the depiction of facial scarification patterns, filed teeth, fanciful and inventive hair styles, tear motifs and cruciform markings on the forehead. They are known for their high level of craftsmanship and aesthetic values. This mask is unique with all the characteristics of the society and ideal feminine beauty. This mask would compliment any collection or adorn ones home.
COMES ON STAND
Late 20th Century
Mask on Stand
10 1/2" tall
5 1/2" wide
Mask with Raffia
8 1/2" wide
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