Punu Mask History
Gabon
Characteristics of Punu masks:

The mask represents the spirit of an ancestor and is commonly found throughout western and central Gabon. The white face represents the soul of an ancestor. The beautiful hairstyle is a common feature among the Punu women. In some cases scarification on foreheads are clearly visible.

Masks of this type are nowadays used to entertain audiences during festivals or celebrations. On rare occasions the masks are used during a ritual function. During these rituals masqueraders dance and they embody the spirits of male and female ancestors.

Typical of these type of masks are the female face, the coiffure with two side braids a hairstyle commonly used by women of this region. In some cases red dots that is situated on the forehead and upper cheeks. Other common features are a pointed nose, protruding lips, arched eyebrows narrow eyes and closed mouth.

Some masks have a natural wood color and are believed to have a judiciary function, and is used by chiefs to consult with the ancestors to find solutions to problems. Masks are also used during ceremonies, festivals and celebrations.

The Punu people reside along the upper Ngoumie River. They live in independent villages that are divided into sects and families.

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