Luvale Mwana Pwevo Mask
Culture: Luvale (Lovale, Balovale, Lubale).
Date: first half of the 20th century.
Medium: wood and raffia.
Size: h. 26 cm (10 ¼ in.).
Provenance: ex collection Gregory Verdonck, Brussels.
Extra: The Luvale people, also spelled Lovale, Balovale, Lubale, are a Bantu ethnic group found in northwestern Zambia and southeastern Angola. The Luvale differ from other northwestern Zambian peoples in their strong lineage and clan structures. Commoner lineage groups play important social and political roles and are largely independent of the Luvale chiefs, whose formal powers are apparently limited. Matrilineal descent is observed and cross-cousin marriage preferred. Male initiation (mukanda) is an important experience, a rite of passage by which full manhood and attendant responsibilities are attained.
Within a large repertoire of mask character types, Mwana Pwevo “the young woman" masks actually perform a crucial role in transmitting culturally relevant information in the mukanda male initiation. It imparts fertility to the spectators.
Mwana Pwevo masks exhibit the typical fine features such as high cheekbones, a pointed chin and sharply pointed teeth symbolising a young potential woman.
Photo credit: © Jean Godecharle.
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