Pwoom Itok Mask
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unknown Kuba (Congolese)
Pwoom Itok Mask19th century - 20th century
Carved, perforated, and inlaid wood and copper with patina
11 in. x 7 11/16 in. x 4 1/2 in. (28 cm x 19.5 cm x 11.5 cm)
Bryn Mawr College
Accession Number: 99.3.127
Other Number(s): 184 (243) (Neufeld Collection Number)
243 (Sotheby's Lot Number)
Geography: Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Classification: Ceremonial and Performance Artifacts; Masks
Culture/Nationality: Bushoong, Kuba, Congolese, Central African, African
Collection: Neufeld Collection
This type of mask is called Pwoom Itok, and would originally have been attached to a headdress consisting of raffia cloth and feathers. It was probably also painted. Its chief characteristics are the cone-shaped eyes, surrounded by holes through which the wearer can see during ceremonies. Pwoom Itok masks are also characterized by protruding foreheads, large noses, and small mouths. Representing a wise old man whom other dancers come to consult, it was worn at funerals of dignitaries and in puberty rites.
This object has the following keywords:
- African - Refers to the cultures of the continent of Africa, which is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea.
- carvings - Refers to works executed by cutting a figure or design out of a solid material such as stone or wood. It typically refers to works that are relatively small in size, are part of a larger work, or are not considered art. For large and medium-sized three-dimensional works of art, use the broader term "sculpture" or another appropriate term.
- Central African - Nationality, styles, and culture of the people of the nation of the République centrafricaine.
- Central African - Styles and cultures from a wide region of Africa that straddles the Equator and is drained largely by the Congo River system.
- Congolese - Nationality, styles, and cultures of the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- Kuba - Describes works created by the African people of the same name living in the central Democratic Republic of Congo.
- masks - Refers to coverings for all or part of the face, usually with openings for the eyes and sometimes the mouth. They are worn to hide or alter the identity of the wearer or for protection. Masks as cultural objects have been used throughout the world in all periods since the Stone Age. Masks are extremely varied in appearance, function, and fundamental meaning. They may be associated with ceremonies that have religious and social significance or are concerned with funerary customs, fertility rites, or curing sickness. They may be used on festive occasions or to portray characters in a dramatic performance and in re-enactments of mythological events. They may be used for warfare and as protective devices in certain sports. They are also employed as architectural ornaments.
- wood - The principal tissue of trees and other plants that provides both strength and a means of conducting nutrients. Wood is one of the most versatile materials known.
Owner Name: Mace Neufeld and Helen Katz Neufeld, Class of 1953
Place: Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, US
Ownership End Date: 12/20/1996
The following Bibliography exist for this object:
Important Tribal Art
New York, NY, 1989
Figure Number: 243
The following Comparanda exist for this object:
- "African Heritage Document and Research Center." (Accessed June 11, 2020): AHDRC.eu. Record No.: 0022733.
The following Related Bibliography exist for this object:
- "The Oslo Museum of Cultural HIstory." (Accessed June 18, 2020): https://www.khm.uio.no/english/. https://www.khm.uio.no/english/research/collections/objects/the-mask-that-sees-all-and-knows-all.html.
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