Chokwe Plank Mask withFace Angola
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The Chokwe people are members of a large culture cluster living today in central Angola, parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Zambia. This cluster is composed of a number of distinct but related peoples, the most prominent of which are the Chokwe, but the cluster also includes the Lunda, Ovimbundu, Lwena, Luvala, Mbwela, and Imbangala. As a result of the complex interaction of people the region has shared stylistic elements and figural forms based upon shared mythologies and ritual practices. The present mask called Mwana pwo depicts a beautiful young woman and represents the female ances¬≠tor. Mwana pwo mask appears at the initiation and circumcision ceremonies of young boys (Mukanda). Mwana Pwo also dances at the induction of a new chief, at funerals and fertility rituals, and during public entertainment. During the performance, Mwana Pwo is always accompanied with male character masks such as Cihongo or Cikunza. The dancer of Mwana Pwo attracts a very large audience, especially women. The grace and elegant gestures of the pwo mask teach Chokwe women to act in a graceful manner. Mwana Pwo reflects all the positive attributes of an ideal woman who can serve as a Chokwe role model.