art of the Chokwe Tribe. Mask tribal significance.
The mask to the left was used during the inauguration ceremony of
the king. The ceremony is an important investiture event.
During the ceremony sacrifices are made to the ancestors. According to
Chokwe belief, ancestral spirits play the crucial role of providing for
living descendants. The ancestral characters also
protect the peoples from intruders or evil (wanga) supernatural
elements. The Chokwe people influenced the art of many neighboring
tribes, including the Lunda, Mbunda, Lovale and Mbangani.
most powerful and important Chokwe mask is known as chikunga. Highly charged with power and considered sacred, chikunga
is used during investiture ceremonies of a chief and sacrifices to the
ancestors. These masks are made of barkcloth stretched over an armature
of wickerwork, covered over with black resin and painted with red and
white designs. Only the current chief of a group wears Chikunga.
mukanda masks play a
role in male initiation. The mukanda
is an initiatory institution through which religion, art, and social
organization are transmitted from one generation to the next. Mukanda training lasts from one to two years. Boys between the
ages of about eight and twelve are secluded in a camp in the wilderness,
away from the village. There they are circumcised and spend several
months in a special lodge where they are instructed in their anticipated
roles as men. As part of their instruction, the boys are taught the
history and traditions of the group and the secrets associated with the
wearing and making of masks.
the past some masks played important roles in religious beliefs and
institutional practices, many other Chokwe masks have come to be used
primarily for entertainment. Itinerant actors wearing these masks travel
from village to village, living on gifts received at performances. Most
masks are carved from wood. The most popular and best-known
entertainment masks are chihongo,
spirit of wealth, and pwo,
features, sunken cheeks, and jutting beard of an elder characterize a chihongo
was formerly worn only by a chief or by one of his sons as they traveled
through their realm exacting tribute in exchange for the protection that
the spirit masks gave. While Chihongo
brings prosperity, his female counterpart, pwo, is an archetype of
womanhood, an ancestral female personage who encourages fertility. As an
ancestor, she is envisioned as an elderly woman. The eyes closed to
narrow slits evoke those of a deceased person. The surface facial
decoration is considered female. Recently pwo has become known as mwana
pwo, a young woman. It represents young women who had undergone
initiation and are ready for marriage.
social and political organization, history, philosphy, religion and
morality are presented publicly through various types of masquerades. The
king or Mwana Ngana governs the Chokwe people. The king distributes
hunting and cultivation areas, and also governs the Chokwe people. The
male Mugonge and female Ukule societies regulate social life in the
village. The Chokwe people are vigorous and courageous hunters and
agriculturists. Their dynamic spirit is reflected in their art.
Chokwe people founded several kingdoms, each headed by a king. Around
1860, the Chokwe people were hard hit by a drought and famine. They
migrated back towards the south and settled in Angola and in Zaire, at
the source of the Kwangi, Kasai and Lungwe rivers.
Chokwe and related peoples have been greatly affected by modern
conflicts, despite the adversity they continue to pursue their own ways.
In militarized areas in Angola and Congo, as well as in Zambian refugee
camps, they practice initiation, divination, and healing rites. Some
Chokwe chiefs have been displaced by war, and their authority has been
challenged by modern governments’ political goals. Nevertheless,
Chokwe chiefs continue to represent traditional and sacred authority.
A further point of
note, is that the DRC (Democratic Republic Of Congo have been engaged in
war for a number of years. All over Africa where countries are involved
in armed conflict and war we have one underlying factor, namely all the
countries are rich in mineral wealth, namely gold, diamonds and or oil.
According to tribal elders, unscrupulous "faceless" men fuel
most of the wars, so that they can stake a claim on the rich mineral
resources while the country is in a state of anarchy.
An 8,000 year old bone found in Zaire, the Ishango bone, covered with
series of notches is thought to be the world's earliest number system.