X65.5270 Bwiti association mask

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Object Name: Bwiti association mask

Artist: Unknown

Culture: Ndzebi or Sango peoples

Place of Origin: Bend of the Ogowe River, Gabon

Date/Era: 19th to early 20th century

Medium/Materials: Wood, plant fiber, cotton string, metal, glass beads, paint

Dimensions: H: 53cm

Credit Line: Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of the Wellcome Trust.

Accession Number: X65.5270

Description

A large and imposing presence, this mask was most likely used by members of the men’s initiation society called Bwiti for mourning and funerary rites and may have been performed on stilts. The same polychromatic decoration in white, red, and black or blue can be found on the pillars and boards of the ebandza temples of the Bwiti association. The masquerade would have honored beloved ancestors and served to keep malevolent forces at bay. In Gabonese cultures, the color white is associated with ancestral presence and blessing.

Source: Gallery text, Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives, 2006.

See also: Marla C. Berns, World Arts, Local Lives: The Collections of the Fowler Museum at UCLA. Fowler Museum, Los Angeles, 2014.

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