These Punu masks are named Okuyi. These masks are carved in soft and light wood, whitened with kaolin, sometimes mixed with bone powder and also red ochre. The latter depict and commemorate ancestors, men and women, which explains the masculine/feminine pairs.
Perched on tall wooden stilts, the dancers were dressed in wraparound skirts made of raffia or cotton fabric. They would perform breathtaking acrobatic tricks all across the village and around the huts.
Men would mime fear by gesticulating and by threatening the mask by using sticks and throwing stones.
Text adapted from pages 101 and 102 of Art ancestral du Gabon, L. Perrois, Nathan.
This mask is characterised by its braided hairdo composed of large plaits, instead of the usual buns, the open eyes are carved with painted pupils, whereas most Okuyi masks present almost closed eyes, forming a convex half-moon. However, the tribal diamond scarifications on the forehead are specific to the Punu.
The overall expression is serene.
Dry patina of wear.
- Indigenous object name
- Ethnic group/ culture
- Region/ country
- Wood, pigments, brass nail
- Circa 1960
- Sold with stand
- 34×21×14 cm
- 1 kg