Punu Helmet Mask


This beautiful mask originates from the Punu people of Gabon and represents the idealized beauty of Punu women. The masks characteristically have realistic faces with pursed lips, narrow eyes, high-domed foreheads and elaborate coiffures. The nine black lozenge shaped designs on the forehead are typical of Punu masks and have been described as ‘third eye’ scarification marks; an indication that the wearer of the mask is acting as a conduit between this life and the next. The cowrie shells are symbolic of fertility and wealth. The masks often represent female ancestors; the fact that the hair styles have not been flattened by the need to carry heavy loads on the head is an indication that the dead are enjoying a relaxed and unburdened existence in the afterlife! Punu masks are worn on festive occasions often by performers wearing costumes of raffia or cotton fabric and moving with amazing acrobatic agility on stilts up to two metres in height. A mask such as this would not have been worn on the face but on a hidden wooden structure strapped to the top of the head. As a result, the ‘face’ of the dancer would seem to hover in the air, adding to the ethereal quality of the performance.

The mask comes with a stand.

Size: 400mm x 280mm x 200mm

1 in stock

Additional information

Weight 1.2 kg
Dimensions 28 × 20 × 50 cm

400MM x 280MM x 200MM


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