A Chokwe female facemask
Lot 2594
A Chokwe female facemask
Sold for US$ 51,000 inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
An exeptional Chokwe female facemask
Democratic Republic of Congo, the finely carved face with remains of burnished detail at the hairline, brow, lips, and scarification marks. Attached coiffure and netting. Exceptionally beautiful and well carved.
height 8 1/4in (excluding attachments)


  • Provenance:
    Pierre Dartevelle
    Marc Felix

    Governors State University, IL, 2003
    Krannert Art Museum, IL, 2003
    Belger Art Foundation/University of Missouri-Kansas City, MO, 2004
    Tall Grass Art Association, IL, 2005.

    Perani, J. and Smith F., The Visual Arts of Africa: Gender , Power, and Life Cycle Rituals. Prentice hall, 1998. Fig. 8.16.

    Bourgeois and Rodolitz, REMNANTS OF RITUAL: SELECTIONS FROM THE GELBARD COLLECTION OF AFRICAN ART, Ethnos, New York, 2003, p.43, fig.96

    Pwo signifies womanhood and an elder ancestral female personage associated with fertility. Although performed by a male dancer, the costume includes wooden breasts and a female bustle behind. More recent adaptations transform her into mwana pwo, a young woman who has undergone initiation and therefore ready for marriage. The cross form on the forehead, known as cingelyengelye, is an early Portuguese influence. M.L. Bastin, in a letter of authentification that accompanies this lot, attributed this lovely mask to the Expansion style of the “Kwili-Kasai’, on either side of the border between Angola and D.R.C. Congo.