These are tremendously beautiful masks from Gabon. Really gorgeous.
This one measures 19 x 7 inches. It is old and of high quality. The condition is as shown in the pictures.
The 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).
The Kwele believe in witchcraft and blame all their personal and social ills on its influence. The Kwele protect themselves against the power of witchcraft with the 'beete' ritual.
The 'beete' is a ritual that involves purification by the spirits who are represented in the form of 'ekuk' masks. 'Ekuk' means the 'spirits of the forest' and the 'children of the beete'. Kwele masks represent the antelope whose flesh was eaten at the end of the 'beete' ritual.
Kwele masks have two large horns which sometimes encircle and frame the face. Areas of the face are often painted with white kaolin clay, the color of the spirits. Kwele 'ekuk' masks are beautifully stylised with a heart shaped face, almond shaped eyes and a small or non-existent mouth.