Blackened Ikwara Night Mask, Punu, Gabon

Regular price $55,750.00

Punu People, Gabon: Blackened Ikwara Mask, 19th/20th Century. Carved wood, enhanced with dark stain, white and red pigments, and a brass upholstery tack.

Blackened Punu masks are extremely rare. Unlike the ubiquitous white okuyi masks, which performed publicly, these masks were held in secrecy. Known as ikwara (or ikwara-mokulu, which means "the mask of the night"), they were worn during nocturnal processions.

A comparable mask was sold by Christies' Art of Africa Masterworks sale on May 14, 2019 in New York, Lot 7. The Kreeger Museum in Washington owns a very similar mask formerly in the collection of Helena Rubinstein. A second example, once held by Charles Ratton, is in the collection of the Dapper foundation (#9709). A third was sold by Christie’s (Christie's, Paris, 7 June 2005, lot 228) and a last was formerly in the Verité collection (Hôtel Drouot, Paris, Collection Verité, 17-18 June 2006, lot 191).

For further reference see Robbins, Warren and Nooter, Nancy, African Art in American Collections, Survey 1989, Washington, D. C., Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989, plates #915 Θ

DIMENSIONS: 10"H x 6"W x 5"D

PROVENANCE: Private collection.

CONDITION: Good condition with minor wood loss on the back rim, worn areas, evidence of handling and native maintenance,