Chokwe (Angola) Pwo Mask
Pwo, Bantu for woman, is the title of this carved, wooden dance mask created by the Chokwe of Northern Angola. Chokwe masks depict the ideal woman and are characterized by several distinct features: the half-closed lenticular eyes, a centered and narrow nose, pointed teeth, and facial scarification. Scarification patterns are seen on both cheeks as well as centered on the forehead. Though seemingly menacing from a Western viewpoint, the filed and pointed teeth are, to the Chokwe, a thing of beauty.

The mask symbolizes the primordial ancestor and bestows fertility.Though Pwo style masks are worn as part of a costume by young men during the initiation rites of the Makanda association, they are worn to honor women, especially the mothers of the young men participating in the ritual. (DP)

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