"The power of women" - Gazette Drouot

Dance mask "Mwana Po"
Dance mask "Mwana Po"

With its fine features and carved scarifications, this female mask with its intense expression accentuated by semi opened coffee bean eyes, seduces at first glance. Its hair impresses with its volume and superb state of preservation. This cap is made up of ancient woven and knotted vegetable fibers, maintaining a multitude of cola nut shells. Made of wood, with a nice patina of use slightly reddish and brown, this mask is a dance accessory «Mwana Po». It symbolizes an ancestor and finds its place at the heart of choreographed ceremonies, calling on the gods to promote fertility and thus ensure the survival of the tribe. But it also symbolizes the female ideal, insisting on youth and beauty. It is nevertheless always worn by a man, dressed in a skirt and equipped with posterious breasts, who mimics the manners of women. The dancer has a very close relationship with his mask. He pays the sculptor with a copper ring, sacrificing his marriage with this object. It will also be buried with him. Of paramount importance for the life of the village, this accessory gives its owner an important power. The delicate scarifications of the face have meanings: those of the top of the cheeks evoke tears, sculpted in relief, perhaps those of a young dead woman – the dance recalling the pain caused by her loss –, while that of the forehead, called “tshingelyengelye”, which could be inspired by a Western motif such as the cross of Christ in Portugal, has a characteristic sign of the Tshokwe, whose four points may symbolize the cardinal points. Very beautiful, this object was bought in a Zurich gallery in 1973 by a German painter, before spending a first time in Cannes during a sale at the Hotel Martinez on December 28, 2001. It was also presented at the exhibition “They Collect… the Arts of Africa, Oceania and America in the private collections of Marseille», held at the Musée de la Vieille-Charité in Marseille, from June 6 to September 30, 1995.

The documents :

Tribal art4
Share on your networks :

Quick menu