Africa

Chokwe Mwano Pwo mask repro

Q: I bought this mask in store in Sarasota. I love it. I would like to know what is the value. Maria, 1624

A: This particular Mwano Pwo Mask is traditional in style and would be affordable for most people. I saw another one that was nicer offered by a reputable dealer for $800. Here is what they had to say about their reproduction.

Representing ideal young female beauty, Mwano Pwo were danced with male counterparts, Chihongo, during initiation ceremonies and other important occasions to bring fertility and prosperity to the village. Most share the depiction of facial scarification patterns, filed teeth, fanciful and inventive hair styles, tear motifs and cruciform markings on the forehead. They are known for their high level of craftsmanship and aesthetic values. Despite its appearance and excellent quality of carving, this mask shows no evidence of age or use and was probably made to be sold.

Because repros are well made and carefully antiqued, vendors sometimes claim they are authentic and ask for way more. Authentic African masks with provenance are for wealthy collectors and museums. You should assume what you see for sale is not authentic.

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