240406 - Old Chokwe Ceremonial Ngulu Pig Mask - Angola.


Old African Ngulu dance mask from the Chokwe, Angola / Congo,
Hand carved from a single piece of wood and classic relief like scar tattoos.
Size: 41 cmlong.
This mask was collected between 1960 and 1970 and ended up in my private collection in 2006.
The Chokwe animal masks are less well-known and rarer than the Mwana Pwo masks. They portray birds, monkeys and pigs. The dancer who dons one of these masks becomes the spirit of that animal. They are often danced with the Pwo mask and represent nature spirits and the wild side of nature. They also improve the hunt. As with the Pwo masks, the animal masks are worn high up on the head allowing the dancer to see through the fiber cloth that is attached underneath to both sides of the mask.The Chokwe were once one of the twelve clans of the great Lunda Empire of 17th- and 18th-century Angola. They were initially employed by Lunda nobles, eventually became independent when they refused to continue paying tribute to the Lunda emperor. Their successful trading and abundant resources caused them to be one of the wealthiest groups in Angola. By 1900, the Chokwe had dismantled the Lunda kingdom (also called the Mwata Yanvo) altogether, using guns they had received in trade from the Ovimbundu. Chokwe language and influence then began to dominate northeastern Angola and spread among the Lunda peoples. As the wars and conflicts grew during the colonial era of the 19th and 20th centuries, both from Europeans from their west and the Swahili-Arabs from their east, they militarily responded and expanded further into northern Angola, Congo and into western Zambia.