PUNU HEADDRESS 16, Gabon

Photographs © Tim Hamill

PUNU, SPIRIT HEADDRESS 16, 20", Wood, pigment, metal & raffia, $500, Gabon

This unusual headdress, worn on top of the head, might be one of the rarer black-faced masks worn for judicial purposes at a trial. It also has an unusual metal plating over the face.

Despite its appearance, this headdress shows little evidence of age or use and was probably made to be sold.

Masks like these white-faced masks represented the spirit of an ancestor from the afterworld and were often used by stilt dancers for funeral rituals. They are known for their elegant features, forehead scarification patterns and elaborate coiffures.

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