African Art Collection

Scope and Content


   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.

Regis University Archivist

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Regis University Archives and Special Collections is located on the fourth floor of Regis University Library. The collections do not circulate and may be accessed only in the Reading Room. Please contact Archives and Special Collections at 303.964.3612 or email with any questions.