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Kwele "Trunk" Mask

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Item 864
5.00 LBS

Product Description

The mysterious Kwele of Gabon! We are visually familiar with their artwork but still have only a vague concept as to meaning and specific function. The abstract mask on display with its flat oval face and three sets of almond eyes, of which only the middle pair is carved through is often-exhibited; serving as an exemplar abstract work demonstrating highly sophisticated lines and shapes which are admired worldwide. The mask was crafted from a specific spiritual belief system that was supported by visions experienced during religious rites. The mask carver was both a gaa-beete (initiated official) and a masterful artist able to shape the wood into a functional image but the exact function is not known. It served either as a representation of the spirits that appeared during the rites or it served as a vessel to hold and or attract such spirits. The vertical structure that streams down the center and divides the facial area is thought to be a stylized representation of an forest elephant trunk laid over the face, which lacks nose, mouth and ears. Forest elephants are smaller than those found in the grasslands and are plentiful in the Kwele region. They are feared because of the damage they inflict on crops. A cunning and dangerous animal, the elephant, like the gorilla and the panther; symbolizes of the power of nature to the Kwele people. This light weight mask has a good bit of age and shows obvious signs of wear but no cracking. The white kaolin spiritual powder is still prominent.

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Dimensions: 12 inches long x 8 1/4 inches wide. 

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