Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Fali African Fertility Dolls

When a young Fali man is preparing for marriage, he carves a doll, known as ham pilu from wood, decorating it with hair, beads, and other small fetish objects. This doll is given to his fiance, who wears it in a baby carrier on her back. The doll is a symbol of their mar
riage commitment and represents their future child. The man gives the doll the gender that he desires for his first-born. The young woman cares for the figure until the promised child is born; at this point, the couple carefully stores the doll away.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


These black punu Ikwara masks, which meted out justice, danced only at twilight or at night, on stilts made from musasa, muri-ditenga - 'the tree of the ghosts', which, by all accounts were much shorter than those used by the daytime Okuyi dancers. Punu (and Galwa, Lumbu or Shira) black masks in museums and collections are much rarer then the others, perhaps because of their dangerous and frankly evil nature, which, may have prompted the villagers to conceal them carefully from European collectors (like all objects connected in some way with witchcraft) and, when they had been discovered, to be more reluctant to sell them to travelers than other more banal items.

Visions of Africa: Punu" - Louis Perrois and Charlotte Grand-Dufay ISBN:978-88-7439-401-2

Punu Okuyi Masks

The okuyi or mukuyi mask, originating from the Punu in southwest Gabon, represents and idealized female face. Indicated by the scarification on the face area, consisting of nine dots, and according to some, have a sexual connotation. Another sign of female gender is the coiffure.

The ritual function fulfilled by these masks is normally at funeral ceremonies, when they are danced as embodiments of the spirits of the ancestors. In the masquerade, the dancers, wearing costumes of raffia or cotton fabric and animal pelts, move with amazing agility on stilts up to six and a half feet in height.