This mask was designed and constructed by the Chokwe People of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It belongs to the “Pwo” mask genre that honors founding female members of the culture. This is especially significant, as Chokwe descent lines are determined matrilineally (through female family members), which runs contrary to many African cultures. The female ancestor furnishes fertility and prosperity to the community. The face on the mask is carved in the shape of a cruciform, with glistening cheeks and a stunning contenance. The reddened face of this Chokwe mask has pierced slit eyes, small nose and carved white teeth in the open mouth, orange scarification to the chin, cheeks, temples and forehead, fiber hair sewn to the woven fiber head covering.
Metropolitan Museum of Art Catalog. 2021. “Chokwe Mask: Female (Pwo).” New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art.