Lot: 96

92nd Tribal Art Auction

Female face mask "okuyi" or "mukudji"

Gabon, Punu

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
Gottfried Künzi, Oberdorf / Solothurn Switzerland
René Rickli, Olten, Switzerland
H: 10.2 inch sold

wood, colored, missing parts (insect caused damage) This beautiful old mask with the typical whitened face is one of the so-called "white-faced masks from the Ogooué". These masks represent female entities from the spirit world and especially performed during mourning rites. The masked dancer appeared on high stilts and spoke with ghostly voices, generated by a secret instrument consisting of a small gourd. The masks belonged to the male "mwiri" secret society. According to Perrois, they played an emblematic role during public hearings and, less obstrusively, in the boys inititation. The mask was a powerful policing instrument for keeping the women and children in a subordinate, obedient position. For years it preserved the customs and laws of all these groups in South Gabun, keeping them intact until the arrival of the missionaries in the late 19th century.

Schädler, Karl-Ferdinand, Afrika, Maske und Skulptur, Olten 1989, ill. 61