Punu Mask

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PKK 0515-1

Punu Mask ”mukudji” Mask, Gabon

H: 29,5 cm (11,6″)

An exceptional beautiful and charming mask. It has a friendly expression with its whitened face with pierced slit eyes, unturned mouth, a black horizontal band in relief across the cheeks and nose, blackened brows and band of scarification to the forehead and tall median-crested coiffure and it is a find among Mukuyi Masks – Punu / Tsangui – from Gabon.

Masks of Gabon are often referred to by the names of the rites, in which they participate (Bwiti, Bwete, byeri, ngil, emboli, Okuyi, mukuyi).

They are involved in any circumstance vital for the community, social-rites (mourning, funeral, disease), purification or fertility rituals (birth, adolescence, virginity), rites of reconciliation and justice (to restore the head of authority the harmony in families, or resolve conflicts generation), or finally, protection rituals (especially designed to ingratiate the ancestors or spirits).

The masks Mukudji, commonly called “white masks”, are coated with kaolin, which in ancient times was mixed with human bone powder.

This ritual white paint, still in use throughout equatorial Africa, is called Pfemba.

Sign of the communication with the supernatural world, the white clay soil is used by men and by women, especially during rites of Bwiti.

The front nine keloids diamonds represent the founding myths of the punu, the central point representing the creative spirit.

Provenance: Private collection, Denmark, reputedly acquired from the Maurice Nicaud Gallery, Paris

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