1) The Female (Pwo) Mask is used in celebrations celebrating the Chokwe people’s women. This Pwo Mask was made in the late 19th to early 201th century and is made of wood, fiber, pigment, and metal. The creators of the mask, the Chokwe peoples, live in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
2) The mask represents values that the Chokwe people attach to the rite of passage and womanhood. Such values are introspection and wisdom. The mask conveys introspection and wisdom because the eyes and mouth are closed meaning the female is looking inward, thinking and reflecting. The woman that the mask represents is constructed this way because the women that it celebrates have already obtained wisdom and have no need to look outward for it.
3) The mask allows the wearer, usually a man, to connect to and celebrate womanhood. The type of power the symbolism are intended to activate is the status and respect that comes with womanhood. Womanhood to the Chokwe people comes with a sense of power because that people group is matrilineal.
Interestingly, there is a white clayish power on and around the eyes which connects them to the spiritual realm. The whiteness is symbolic of the connection.
4) The performance that celebrates that activates the power is a celebration in which men wear these masks for the women who have made their rite of passage into womanhood. The man wearing this would be dance and would dance during the ceremony. Not only did this art work celebrate woman at the performance, it celebrated the founding female ancestor of the Chokwe people. This shows that society practiced ancestor worship. This masks were worn multiple times as seen by the signs of use and repairs on the masks.
Also, the way the men danced in ...
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... and power.
4) The Aka Elephant Mask was part of a masquerade that also included a whole costume. Those who wore would have high status and power and while wearing it, it would also conveyed the powerfulness of the king. The costume, performers, dancers, and musicians also brought life to the mask and made it reach its best potential in fulfilling its purpose.
a. The Kousi people attach power to certain animals and also believe in a hierarchy of power in their society.
b. Since wearing the mask would be recognizing the power of the king, it keeps the stability of the hierarchal society in check. It enforces his power through recognition and celebration of it. Two certain animals that the society associated power with was the elephant and leopard, they incorporated them into this artwork because it was used to recognize someone who had power, the king(or Fon).
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