The masks of the Kwele, a little-investigated ethnic group of northeast Gabon and the adjacent area of Cameroon and the Republic of Congo, are associated with the beete association, which maintains order. The masks are also used in initiation rites and at the end of periods of mourning. Representing benevolent forest spirits, they have zoomorphic or anthropomorphic traits, or a combination of two. The faces are usually painted in white kaolin earth, a pigment associated by the Kwele with light and clarity, the two essential factors in the fight against evil. The meaning of the masks with a human face and curved horns is not known. They have been interpreted as representing antelopes or rams, but no explanation of the underlying belief system was given.
Sold at Estate Sale