The form of this relatively naturalistic mask (giwoyo) is defined by the head and the extension beneath the chin known as gilanga or mutumbi. The head has a jutting triangular-shaped forehead, partially closed triangular-shaped eyes, eyebrows that join to make an M-shaped line, prominent cheekbones, an upturned nose and a small downturned mouth. The extension, to which a raffia border is attached, is embellished with a series of striking light and dark triangles at the top and diamond shapes below.
Pende describe giwoyo as one of their oldest masking traditions which originally came from Angola and predate the Pende migration into the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is the only Pende mask worn on top of the head, like a baseball cap, and the only major village mask to be performed in the bush. The strongly chiseled features of the mask allow the audience to view the mask's profile at a distance during performances. Recent scholarship says that the mask represents a cadaver on its funeral bier at a wake. Giwoyo might represent the survival of an archaic ritual in which the masquerade ushered the spirit of the departed out of the village. Further scholarly speculation centers on the possibility that in the past Pende masquerading may have been part of a complex of funeral rituals.
Mask with a face in the shape of two triangles. the longest sides meet in the middle and divide the face in half. There is an extension projecting downward from the chin patterned with black and white diamond shaped motifs. The lower half is fringed with raffia.
Dr. Muller, collected in Belgian Congo, 1924 to 1938
Muller Family Collection, Brussels, until 1984
Emile M. Deletaille, Brussels, 1984 to 1985
Earth Matters: Land as Material and Metaphor in the Arts of Africa, Bowdoin College Museum of Art, October 15, 2015-March 9, 2016
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