Okuyi masks are made by people throughout the Ngounie River basin of southern Gabon. They are danced in masquerades during funeral celebrations. The mask's white coloring symbolizes peace, the afterlife, and the spirits of the dead. Scarification patterns arranged into lozenges on the forehead and at each temple are known as "fish scales." Though the features of these masks are relatively naturalistic, a supernatural effect is created by bulky costumes and stilts worn by the dancer.
Light wooden dance mask, carved in the form of a human face with high headdress painted black in six parallel, curved ridges going from front to back. Face colored white and decorated with three groups of keloids: between brows, at outer edges of eyes and brows, and on temples. Slit eyes, holes at either side for attachment. Used by a female secret society. Condition: Surface wear; missing pigment. Holes in face at lower left and in one eye.