Mask

Chokwe

Angola/Democratic Republic of Congo

Mask, early 20th century

  • On View

Wood, fiber and metal

Dimensions: 13 × 9 in. (33 × 22.9 cm)

Museum purchase with funds from the Collection Endowment, 2002.48

This “Mukanda” mask is one of the most sacred mask types in Chokwe culture. It depicts a mother and symbolizes young boys’ separation from their mothers after their initiation and rebirth into manhood. The stylized mark on the forehead is known as a cingelyengelye, a form of scarification often used in Chokwe beautification practices. The lines carved away from the eyes are called masoji and represent tears to show the great loss mothers endure when their boys become men.

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