Item: Early 20th Cen Lwena Face Mask. Specifications: 24.5 x 19 x 12.5 cm Origin: Angola & Democratic Republic of Congo (see ethnographical notes below) Medium: Timber Carving, Pigment Comments: Fine original patina, no restoration. Provenance: Rudner Collection Cape Town, Field Collected by Arthur Rudner prior to 1954. Provenance Auction House, Cape Town then Private Collection Johannesburg, Private Collection, Melbourne.
Artistically, the Lwena appear to have focused their skills on carving female figures, which are also found on decorative ‘prestige’ objects such as canes, combs and finger pianos, and on masks. These differ from those of the Chokwe as their statues usually display a spherical cross-hatched coiffure which is often divided by a vertical ridge, and angular linear scarifications on their cheeks. All in all, it is a very female art related to a tribal social structure in which women play important roles, including that of chief.