12inH x 10inW

1 in stock



The Punu (also called Bapunu, plural of Mupunu) form an ethnic group mainly distributed in the south of Gabon. The Punu migrated to the south of Gabon (in the Ngounié basin) in the 18th century. They live in independent villages divided into clans and families. Social cohesion is ensured by the Moukouji society, whose essential role is to subjugate the evil spirits of the forest. Their language is Yipunu. Yipunu-speaking people are found in the provinces of Ngounié and Nyanga mainly. The main concentrations are the cities of Mouila, Ndendé (Ngounié); Tchibanga and Moabi (Nyanga). Today, we must add cities like Lambaréné (Moyen-Ogooué) and even the capital of the country Libreville. In terms of number of speakers, Yipunu ranks second, after the Fang language. In Gabon, in the Ngounié basin, the mukuyi commemorates the deceased.
Mounted on immense stilts, a masked dancer, whose body is hidden under a cloth garment – formerly in raffia – performs acrobatic figures while brandishing with each hand a fly swatter. The masks of the mukuyi are believed to represent ancestors, sometimes female. The enigmatic face of the mask is slightly triangular. Under the closed eyes, stretched into almonds, and as if swollen by sleep, the high placed cheekbones are rounded. The number and arrangement of scarifications vary from one style or ethnic group to another. The most common motif, in the form of scales, includes nine diamonds. This distinctive sign, called mabinda, was engraved in the flesh of children, around the age of ten to fourteen. The Punu live mainly in Gabon. They are renowned for the mysterious beauty of their masks with their white face painted with kaolin and the extreme delicacy of their line. Their masks present their ideal of feminine beauty. They express the serenity of the elders who protect them and advise them from the kingdom of the dead.