On offer from our personal collection is this superb older Mwana Pwo face mask from the Chokwe peoples of the DR Congo. Perhaps the best-known style of mask produced by the Chokwe, the Pwo masks symbolize tribal female ancestors & are worn by male dancers during ritual ceremonies.
Imbued with great dignity & a deeply mature spirit, especially noble facial features characterize this soulful mask. Representing tears, double rows of raised scarifications are present on either side of & under each coffee-bean-shaped eye, continuing vertically down the cheeks. The slender nose is beautifully sculpted. The mask's forehead is accented by a distinctive raised cruciform - or cingelyengelye - framed by lateral raised scarifications. A triple-plaited coiffure forms a crown-like structure above the brow. While the prominent chin is strong & dramatic, the agressively open mouth bares sharply filed teeth. Attachment holes perforate the back rim of the mask.
Despite a few imperfections in the wood, including old nicks, chips, & dry age cracks (including a split & a crack at the site of a couple of worn attachment holes at the top of the back rim, an old chip on the mask's left nostril & one on the chin), the piece is in very good overall condition. The mask shows excellent patina & signs of handling- & age-related wear. With its striking appearance evident when viewed from all angles, this powerful mask makes a great display & would be a superb addition to any serious collection.