Mask, Okuyi

Punu, Gabon
Late 19th - Early 20th cent.

Wood, pigments, kaolin

34 cm


Collected in situ around 1923

Private Collection, Paris

Galerie Ratton, Paris

Anna Demina Collection, Milan


Parcours des Mondes, Salon International Des Arts Premiers, Catalogue, Paris, 2018

Origins, A Vision on African Art, Dalton Somaré Gallery, Milan, 2019, pp. 48/51


This beautiful mask shows the calm and serenity that have contributed to the fame of Punu art.

The features are symmetrically distributed, adding gracefulness to the sculpture. The thin arch of the eyebrows gives a beautiful heart-shaped frame to the lower part of the face.
The slit eyes, in the shape of “coffee beans”, the delicately shaped nose, as well as the plump lips correspond to the ideal perfectly proportioned traits attributed to the spirit in order to flatter it.

On the forehead and temples, nine red scales in the shape of a diamond represent the magumbi scarifications and refer to the number of clans in the Punu myths of origin.
The impressive hairstyle is meticulously carved and overhangs the bulging forehead, its deep black colour beautifully contrasts with the reddish lips and scarifications and with the kaolin of the skin.

The supreme beauty of this mask gives evidence of the talent of Punu sculptors and of the devotion of this people to the world of the spirits.*

 * Text courtesy Galerie Ratton, Paris