Africa

Red Mwana Pwo mask

aaaMystrySolvd-865Q:  I was recently in South Africa and purchased a mask in the Green Market in Cape Town. I paid around $75 for it and was impressed by the vendor’s knowledge of the different masks he had. This one especially caught my attention as it was so different than the others. I would love to know about its origins and anything else you might determine.  Alan, 865

A:  This looks like a Mwana Pwo mask from the Chokwe people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Representing an attractive young woman, this mask is danced by Chokwe men at festivals primarily for entertainment, and are said to bestow increased fertility on the spectators. A popular item with collectors and tourists, we see a lot of them on the collector market. The only thing different to me is the red color. Mostly they are black or dark brown. You paid about the right amount.  B

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