MSSU African Art Exibit : The MSSU African Art collection features a variety of authentic works of art from various tribes located throughout Central Africa. The objects in the collection range from mundane day to day grooming tools to ritualistic masks and statues.
Chokwe Dance Mask, Pwo
Object Name:
Mask, Ritual, Pwo
Other Name:
Mask, Dance
Place of Origin:
Chokwe Style, Africa
Aboriginal Indigenous Art.
Decorative only.
H = 16"
W = 6"
D = 8"
Height includes full hair length.

While in former times they probably played important roles in religious beliefs and institutional practices, many other Chokwe masks have come to be used primarily for entertainment. Itinerant actors wearing these masks travel from village to village, living on gifts received at performances. Most masks are carved of wood. The most popular and best—known entertainment masks are chihongo, spirit of wealth, and pwo, his consort. Gaunt features, sunken cheeks, and jutting beard of an elder characterize a chihongo mask. Chihongo was formerly worn only by a chief or by one of his sons as they traveled through their realm exacting tribute in exchange for the protection that the spirit masks gave. While chihongo brings prosperity, his female counterpart, pwo, is an archetype of womanhood, an ancestral female personage who encourages fertility. As an ancestor, she is envisioned as an elderly woman. The eyes closed to narrow slits evoke those of a deceased person. The facial decoration on the surface are considered female. Recently pwo has become known as mwana pwo, a young woman. It represents young women who undergone initiation and are ready for marriage.
Elongated black face mask, with brown raffia extending from back and sides of mask. Large bulgy slit eyes in deep orbits, long thin nose, oval—shaped open mouth, with jagged teeth. Small checkerboard designs under each eye and between eyes, on forehead. Small crescent—shaped ears, net attached to sides of cheeks, decorative only in the style of Chokwe masks.
Finley Collection
Wood W/Raffia
Ritually Used
Carving / Weaving
Art Department, Missouri Southern State University
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Rear ViewRear View
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