Punu Okuyi Mask

Exhibits: Ancestor Cult
Tribes: Punu peoples
Location: South-west Gabon
Period: 20th Century
Materials: Pigments, White Kaolin, Wood
Price: Contact Us

The Okuyi mask represents the Punu ideal of beauty, with a style that tends to be more realistic than that of north Gabon. The mask is characterized by an oval or triangular white face, with a diamond-shaped scar carved in relief on the forehead and a square one on the temples. Slit eyes and reddened lips, enhanced by the blackened and characteristic ridged coiffure which may be carved as one, two or three grooved lobes, imitate a former practice, when women bolstered their braided hair with fiber stuffing. The Mukudj mask represented a female guardian spirit in the funerary rites, initiation of adolescent girls, and the ancestral cult. In the Mukudj society, the masked dancers danced in the rite of the full moon, often performing impressive acrobatics on stilts, invisible under their fiber skirts, as they proceeded through the village.


D Newton. H. Waterfield Tribal Sculpture, Thames and Hudson, 1995 p.155; L. Segy, Masks of Black Africa, 1976, pl.194

Punu Okuyi Mask
Punu Okuyi Mask
Punu Okuyi Mask
Punu Okuyi Mask