Face Mask
Date Early to mid-20th century
Dimensions Overall: 13 1/2 in. (34.3 cm)
Medium Pigment and kaolin on wood
Credit Line Gift of Gabrielle P. Hubbard in memory of William L. Parker, Sarah Harrison Parker, & J.W. Hubbard, Jr.
Description This mask represents the likeness of a beautiful Gabon woman. Stylized qualities are used to capture her elegance: oval face, coiffure, arched eyebrows, scarification, eyes, and small mouth. The mask fits over the face and has moon-shaped slits for eyes. The mask is gently rounded and the nose is long and well-formed. An elaborate style of hairdressing is carved above the face. The hair is painted black, the face is (faded) white, the mouth is picked out in vivid scarlet, and the eyebrows are a fine line of black. The mask would have been worn by an agile male dancer attempting to gain communal recognition. The dancer also performed acrobatic feats while balancing on stilts. Similar masks from the same region would have represented the spirit of a dead maiden, used in a funeral ceremony. A male dancer, wearing stilts, would have performed in celebration of her life.
Exhibition History"Work of the Month," February 2001, Chrysler Museum of Art.
Published ReferencesReference: Alisa LaGamma, Guest Editor. "Authorship in African Art," _African Arts_. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art. 08/1998: pp. 18-22.
Reference: Alisa LaGamma. "Mukudj Mask," _Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin_. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art. 09/2000: p. 73.
Don Harrison, "Art Unveiled," _Coastal Virginia Magazine,_ April 2014, 52.
Object Label Face Mask, early to mid 20th century Punu peoples, Gabonese (African) Pigment and kaolin on wood, 13 1/2 in. Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA Gift of Gabrielle P. Hubbard in memory of William L. Parker, Sarah Harrison Parker, & J.W. Hubbard, Jr. 91.70
Object Number 91.70