Africa

Punu mask from Gabon

Q:  I was given this mask, and several others, by my 87 yr old mom who has traveled extensively over her lifetime.  There is a little paper inside the mask with ‘Gabon’ written on it.  Sophie, 890

A:  From the Punu people of Gabon, this is one of the most famous maiden-style masks found in West Africa. These white-faced masks represent the spirit of an ancestor from the after world and were often used by stilt dancers for funeral rituals. They are known for their elegant features, forehead scarification patterns and elaborate coiffures. The white face and eyes of these Punu masks look Oriental to many people. You can find them on Google Images and eBay. Thousands are made every year. However, this one is a little below average in the quality of the carving.  B-

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