Kwele masks of Gabon are used during initiation ceremonies and or at the
end of a mourning period. The masks represent the spirits of the forest.
The face of the masks are normally painted with white kaolin, the white
represents the spirit world (peace and tranquility). Maskers do not wear
Kwele masks during ceremonies; instead they are shown to the audience.
Physical characteristics of the kwele
- The horns of the mask always curve
downwards; this could be associated with tranquility, or a state
of peace and rest.
- The mouth is situated very close to
- Narrow eyes.
- Small pointed triangular nose.
- Wide arced eyebrows.
mask to the left is somewhat uncommon in that the horns are w-shaped and
not arched. Possibility exists that this type of mask was made for the
tourist trade. The faces on the horns are fairly common.
Gabon is located along the equator in
West-central Africa. (See Map of Africa)
Timber was its only primary resource. They had a near bankrupt economy
and people suffered from acute malnutrition, until they gained
Independence on the 17th August 1960 from the previously (Rome French
By 1985, Gabon
was the 6th largest oil producer on the African continent. Main primary
products include Cocoa, coffee, palm oil, bananas, rice, livestock
manganese and uranium.