REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Angola
YEAR PRINTED: 1995
VALUE: 100,000 readjusted kwanzas

This banknote, printed solely in 1995 by the government of Angola, depicts José Eduaord dos Santos and António Agostinho Neto on the obverse, and on the reverse, a mwana pwo mask of the Chokwe people of Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo, with a vase and the Angolan coat of arms. The “readjusted” kwanza was a second attempt to revalue the currency during a long, highly inflationary period (the first rescinded the kwanza and replaced it with the “new kwanza” (novo kwanza). It was followed by a third attempt in 1999, replacing the readjusted kwanza with the “second kwanza” (actually, the fourth kwanza).

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REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Angola
YEAR PRINTED: 2002
VALUE: 18 kwanzas

This stamp is one of a set, issued by the Angolan government in 2002, that celebrates the masks of Angola. The mask shown here is the likisi mask, also called a cinganji mask, of the Ovingangela people. It represents a zoomorphic creature much like an antelope (kakuhu) and is used to invoke the power of bush spirits to protect and purify the village.

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REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Angola
YEAR PRINTED: 2002
VALUE: 17 kwanzas

This stamp is one of a set, issued by the Angolan government in 2002, that celebrates the masks of Angola. The mask represented here is the mwana pwo (beautiful young woman ancestor) mask of the Chokwe people.

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REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Angola
YEAR PRINTED: 2002
VALUE: 11 kwanzas

This stamp is one of a set, issued by the Angolan government in 2002, that celebrates the masks of Angola. Represented here is the mukixi mask of the Chokwe people. This mask represents a kind of supernatural being who visits the village for purification and protection purposes during adult initiation (circumcision) ceremonies for boys.

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REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Angola
YEAR PRINTED: 2002
VALUE: 10 kwanzas

This stamp is one of a set, issued by the Angolan government in 2002, that celebrates the masks of Angola. Represented here is the mwana mpwevo mask of the Ovingangela people. This mask represents a beautiful young Ngangela woman (though worn by a man) and is used during adult initiation (circumcision) rituals for boys.

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REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Angola
YEAR PRINTED: 2002
VALUE: 10 kwanzas

This stamp is one of a set, issued by the Angolan government in 2002, that celebrates the masks of Angola. Represented here is the mbunda mask of the Ovingangela people. This headdress would be used in a wide variety of rituals, including the boy’s adult initiation (circumcision) ceremony, weddings, births, and enthronements of new chiefs. The mbunda plays a clown function, making suggestive movements to entertain the audience by breaking taboos.

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TITLE: Yaka Kholuka Mask
TYPE: helmet mask
GENERAL REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Congo, Dem. Rep. of
ETHNICITY: Yaka
DESCRIPTION: Kholuka Makunda Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Makunda (N’khanda)
FUNCTION: Adult Initiation
AGE: ca. 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: split cane; cotton cloth; resin; raffia; natural pigments

The Yaka people of Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have a male initiation society known as Makunda or N’khanda, which is charged with circumcising, hazing, and teaching boys to become a man (mainly, education in hunting and sex).  During the circumcision dance performances (kinkanda), the initiates wear special masks while their teachers alone are permitted to wear the ritual masks of the Makunda. After initiation, the boys are led out of seclusion and back into the community.  Before festivities can begin, the head teacher (kahyuudi or kayudi) commissions a carver (nkalaweeni or mvumbwa) to create a series of masks. Many types of masks are worn or danced in succession during the final initiation feast:

  • Kambaandzya (a raffia cloth domed helmet mask with a brim bisecting it; the mask is covered in black resin and painted with geometric designs in red, white, blue, and yellow)
  • Tsekedi (a leather or raffia cloth helmet mask with a white, human face and a series of horizontal discs on an inverted cone topping the helmet)
  • Mweelu (a helmet made of braided raffia fiber with large numbers of feathers; birdlike eyes in wood, gourd or bamboo; and a hornbill beak for a mouth)
  • Ndeemba (an abstract human face with bulging eyes carved of wood; many phallic rods come out of the helmet in all directions, including the inverted cone on the very top)
  • Kholuka (a polychrome human face with bulging eyes, and an open mouth showing the teeth, carved of wood; horizontal discs on an inverted cone come from the top, with bird feathers, and polychrome figures of humans or animals)

The kholuka, also known as a mbaala, is worn either by the leader of the initiation or the senior initiate.  It is the last danced, and it is danced alone to signal the end of the initiation ceremony. Unlike the other masked dances, which are entertaining to the audience, the kholuka creates a sense of unease due to the overtly sexual behavior of the dancer.

There are also masks not danced by initiates, known as Kakuungu. This mask is a large, long face mask with a distorted human-like face having bulbous chin, cheeks, and forehead.  It is thought to represent an ancestor and is danced by the herbal shaman to stop bleeding after the circumcision. Similarly, the mbawa, a mouthless helmet mask of raffia cloth over an ovular structure of split cane, with horn s to symbolize the pakasa buffalo, is not danced by initiates.

For more on Yaka masquerade, see Arthur P. Bourgeois, Art of the Yaka and Suku (1984).

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REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Angola
YEAR PRINTED: 2002
VALUE: 36 kwanzas

This stamp is one of a set, issued by the Angolan government in 2002, that celebrates the masks of Angola. The mask represented here is the mwana pwo (beautiful young woman ancestor) mask of the Chokwe people.

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REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Angola
YEAR PRINTED: 1976
VALUE: 50 escudos

This stamp, issued by the Angolan government in 1976 almost immediately after achieving independence from Portugal, depicts a mask identified as “Diquiche-ua-Puheue,” but which is more commonly known as the mwana pwo mask of the Chokwe people.

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REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Angola
YEAR PRINTED: 1976
VALUE: 3 escudos

This stamp, issued by the Angolan government in 1976 almost immediately after achieving independence from Portugal, depicts a mask identified as “Bui or Congolo,” probably of the Bakongo people.

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