A carved, wood face mask with black braided plant fibers attached and on the back of the mask is a strap for wearing it. There is a black graphic on the cheek of the mask that identifies this as possibly a female (Pwo) Chokwe mask from Angola, though it does not feature the typical cruciform motif on the forehead. If indeed a Chokwe, the graphic on the cheek, according to the Metropolitan Museum of Art's (MET) Collection, symbolizes tears.
The MET further describes that this design was used for initiations of young people entering adulthood. The event this would be worn celebrates the bond between mothers and sons as coming to an end. The tear motif symbolizes the many emotions of this rite of passage - joy and pride but also loss and sadness.
The objects were originally obtained by Dr. and Mrs. H. Veazie Markham, medical missionaries of that church. The couple were appointed for life service to West Central Portuguese Africa (modern Angola) by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, and they served there from 1927-1939. The mask along with other objects were originally collected about 1930, and were exhibited at the East Congregational Church before being donated in 1948.
1927 – 1939
Carved, Wood, Natural Fiber
2" h 1" w 7" d
Current Location Status:
Gift Of East Congregational Church
East Congregational Church