Naturalism and spirituality are the main features of Makuyé masks, which are carved by Punu artists from Gabon. The two elements sum up harmoniously, reaching results of great perfection. These masks used to be shown off during funeral ceremonies, in order to pacify the spirits. The dancers who wore masks were on stilts, so that the white faces seen from below seemed to have like a supernatural aspect.
Punu Tsangui mask
This beautiful Punu Tsangui mask, made by the subgroup Tsangui (also called: Batsangui, Tsaangi, Tsangi, Tsangui), is from Lebamba village in south Gabon. It presents the typical features of female Punu portraiture, such as: the refined hairstyle, the half closed eyes, the small fleshy mouth, the elegant expression.
Punu Okuyi mask
This charming Punu Okuyi mask is from Ngounié region, in southern Gabon. The term ‘okuyi’ (plural: ‘mekuyo’) identifies a rite of passage, practiced in several states of central Africa. Traditionally, the rite is performed in various special occasions, such as funerals, weddings and the transition from childhood to adolescence.
Pounou loumbou mask
Punu Mukuyi mask
This splendid artwork happily combines the artistic qualities of the Punu ethnic group. The lines are smooth, soft but not cloying, harmoniously entered in the oval of the face. The face is characterized by large eyes from oriental cut and the highly arched eyebrows. All this gives a sweet and serene expression to the mask.
This artwork, of unquestionable beauty, presents regular features, soft but not cloying, harmoniously entered in the oval of the face. The eyes, with an almond cut, are the main element. The lips, small but meaty, convey a serene feeling. The helmet is embellished by beads, shells and natural fibers.
Punu helmet with four faces
This particular helmet comes from the Ngounié region, in southern Gabon. The Punu are famous for the mysterious beauty of their masks, with the painted face in white kaolin, as well as for the extreme delicacy of their sign. Their masks, like this helmet, express the serenity of the ancestors, who protect and advise from the afterlife. This helmet was worn by a dancer during the funeral ceremonies.