Chokwe Mwana Pwo mask


Masks and ancestors among the Chokwe

Remarkable African Chokwe mask with reddish patina obtained with the help of a pigment called tukula. This is a female mwana pwo mask depicting a young woman in young age. It can be recognized by its large sockets containing eyes slit like coffee beans; the delicacy of her features, her wide mouth revealing numerous teeth cut for aesthetic purposes. On the forehead, a famous motif called cingelyengelye which symbolizes the creator god Nzambi.

This mask, when worn (only by a man), paid homage to the female ancestors to whom the responsibility for the fertility of the women of the village was attributed. The dance was to bring peace, fertility, wealth and well-being to the village. The pwo or mwana pwo mask was danced with its male counterpart: the cihongo mask.

There are stylistic variations according to the regions and the Chokwe sub-groups, nevertheless, the mask which I propose to you here is very similar to the one visible in Trésors d'Afrique - Musée de Tervuren, p. 125.

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Data sheet

Presumed dating
Circa 1960
19 cm
Ethnic group
Chokwe / Tchokwe / Tschokwe
Wood, accessories
Tribal Art Collection Portugal

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