Tschokwe, Cihongo Mask

Tschokwe, Cihongo Mask

presumed early XXth
Height: 34 cm (mask and its crown, without the neck), width (of the headdress): 39 cm
Tribal Art
Inventory number
sur demande / on request

This mask is called Cihongo, it is the male counterpart of the female Pwo mask.

They are both very close in style.

The forehead, open and rounded, is marked with a stylized Saint Andrew's cross, the ears are adorned with curls, the half-closed eyes are marked with tears, the mouth with blunt teeth is highlighted. Very nice caramel patina, with remains of red pigments. 

Only the chief or the son of the chief could wear the Cihongo, a representation of a male spirit evoking wealth, strength and power. It was the spirit of a notable who was supposed to bring prosperity to the village but also to render justice.

As with all tribal art masks, it was a component of a more complete outfit (the operator had to disappear behind the figure of the spirit he embodied). According to Manuel Jordan in "Masks in Congo pages 190 & 191", Cihongo masks are the representation of a primordial male ancestor. They are decorated with a large fan-shaped crown made of feathers.

The dancer wore rattles to give rhythm to his dance.

The costume was composed of a knitted raffia suit with long sleeves and tights, a fiber skirt, worn over it, also gave rhythm to his movements.

Like the Pwo mask, he performed dance tours and collected many donations from villagers who wished to be graced by him.


Origin : 

  • French private collection