Pwo mask, Chokwe, Angola
The collection of twenty-four handmade artifacts represents tradition pieces of tribal life south of the Sahara in West, Central, and East Africa. All pieces are made of wood, though the Mahongwe reliquary has brass sheets and wires wrapped over a wooden core. The age of each piece is uncertain, however the lifespan of wood in village life suggest an age span of between forty to one hundred years.
The masks, shrine figures, ancestor posts, and the reliquaries perform roles unique to their tribe and country. As a broad generalization, all of these pieces serve their community’s welfare: either to initiate the young, to promote fertility and health, to increase the harvest, or, to redress social or political wrongs. In short, these artifacts are prayers addressed to the ancestors and the spirits of nature, who properly honored can act as intercessors between the spiritual world and that of the living,
Each item in the Collection is identified by its function, tribe, and country of orign.
All materials in Archives & Special Collections can be found on the 4th floor of Dayton Memorial Library, Room 401. We are currently in the process of hiring a new Archivist; please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to ensure access until we have staffing in place.