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Mask (Mwana Pwo)

Mwana Pwo (young woman) masks, danced at festivals for entertainment, are said to bestow increased fertility on the spectators. The masks represent female ancestors depicted as beautiful young women, with high foreheads, balanced features, filed teeth, and scarification. The scarification marks, which may duplicate those of the actual woman whose beauty inspired the carver, include the cingelyengelye design on the forehead. This design representing the creator god, Nzambi, was probably derived from tin pendants traded into the Chokwe region by Portuguese voyagers as early as the seventeenth century.

Catalogue Description:
The eyes are bean-shaped with slit openings and are enclosed in flat raised circles formed by brown and cheek. Mouth is raised, with open flat lips exposing pointed teeth. The ears are small, extended and are drilled inside. An incised bar pattern appears on cheeks and forehead. A single drill hole at top rim of mask. Condition: good. Native repair (sewn crack) top of head and fron of right ear.


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