This whitened, Punu group, face mask shows a distinctive double coiffure and flattened face. Keloid scarification marks along the temple areas and forehead indicate this mask represents a female. Such maiden masks are danced by males who wear stilts in order to survey the crowd and watch for adversaries ready to cast their sorcery spells. The masquerade is said to be beautiful to watch and it requires great balance and skill by the dancer, thought to be a gift from birds above. Serpents, with their writhing agility and ability to frighten away enemies, also play a part in the symbolism of this performance.
This 'mukudj' mask shows great age and much use. A village repair is evident on the left cheek. The squarish, more simplified features possibly hint at an Njabi origin-a lesser known Punu subgroup. Gabon, Central Africa. Mask itself measures 12"H x 8"W x 7"D. Overall length, including the old raffia fiber fringe is 22.50". In very good condition. Early 20th century. Provenance: Alain Finard, Paris, 1980's.