Pwevo or Nalindele (royal woman)
Chokwe or Luvale peoples
Late 19th-20th century
H: 21.0 cm, W: 17.5 cm, D: 8.5 cm (H: 8.3 in, W: 6.9 in, D: 3.3 in)
Museum purchase with funds provided by Jay T. Last. X2002.33.7
The markings on makishi symbolize forces that define the cosmological views of the peoples who use them. A point of ritual empowerment is implied on this mask character where the vertical line of the nose crosses the horizontal line of the slit eyes. The resulting cross shape becomes a crossroads, a place of symbolic consequence. The two cross-within-a-circle motifs (vijingo) on the cheeks become one sun that is seen both before sunrise and after sunset. The chingelyengelye, a powerful symbol, is placed at the top on the forehead, at ”noon” when the empowering sun is at its brightest. Masks conceived with this degree of symbolic elaboration may represent royal characters, in this case perhaps a woman of royal blood or an actual female chief.