Chokwe Wooden Cihongo Mask - PF.3990
Origin: Southwestern Congo/Angola/Zambia
Circa: 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 12" (30.5cm) high
Catalogue: V19
Collection: African
Style: Chokwe
Medium: Wood

African art - with its powerful forms, complex symbolism and innovation - is one of the great artistic traditions of humankind. Personal and thought - provoking, this Chokwe male mask is referred to as "Tchihongo". The prominent horizontal ridge beneath his solemn closed mouth represents a beard which characterizes this as a male mask (Tchihongo), not a female mask (Mwana Pwo). Exuding ceremonial tranquility and dignity, this mask alludes to the long tradition of Chokwe art as an expression and a conveyor of the beliefs and customs of its past. This mask may relate to the legendary story of the hunter-hero Tschibinda Ikunda, from whom all Chokwe rulers descend. His elaborate ceremonial headdress leads us to believe that he was a chief. This ancient artist has so sensitively carved the ideas and concepts of his society on this rich, dark wooden mask. The symbols were clearly understood by the members of the society. And although we may not be able to decipher the meanings of the ancient symbolism, we still appreciate its incredible, timeless beauty. - (PF.3990)