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"Lovely Maiden" Mask (mwanaphwo)

ôLovely Maiden
"Lovely Maiden" Mask

Angola, Chokwe people
Wood, raffia and other fibers
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Martin J. Gerson

Mwanaphwo literally means "young woman." Masks like this depict an archetypal ancestral personality who died at a young age. The mask's eyes are rendered as narrow slits, indicative of a dead person. Only male dancers wear these masks; women never do. The masks are used in village performances for boys' initiation, or "coming of age," ceremonies. Such masks also symbolize the prominence women enjoy in the Chokwe's matrilineal society.

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