Chihongo mask

Chokwe peoples
Late 19th–early 20th century
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General Description

This bearded Chihongo mask has the lean features and sunken cheeks of a very old man. It is worn with an elaborate feather headdress and a net costume with a broad fiber skirt resembling that worn by Chokwe chiefs. In performances, the Chihongo mask dances with Pwo, his consort, an archetype of womanhood and fertility.

Chokwe masks were once used in religious and kingship rituals and in the socialization of youths. Now they are used primarily for entertainment. In the past, the chief wore the male Chihongo mask, a symbol of wealth and virility, while he collected tribute from the villages.

Excerpt from

Roslyn A. Walker, Label text, Arts of Africa, 2015.