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Fundação Sindika Dokolo acquires another looted Mwana Pwo mask made by the Chokwe people
Mwana Pwo mask, c. late 19th /early 20th century © courtesy of Fundação Sindika Dokolo.

LUANDA.- Fundação Sindika Dokolo announced another momentous acquisition of a looted Mwana Pwo mask made by the Chokwe people of Angola. This important work from the 19th century was discovered in Paris and originally formed part of a collection that belonged to the Dundo Museum in Angola. The mask is one of many pieces stolen from the museum’s collection which has led Fundação Sindika Dokolo initiatives in recovering looted classical works with the aims of returning them back to the continent.

The Mwana Pwo mask was purchased in February from a French dealer following an agreement in which this significant work will be returned to its original home at the Dundo museum. The piece was sourced by Belgian art dealer Didier Claes who traced the mask’s provenance having identified the work through an image from the esteemed art scholar Marie-Louise Bastin’s book Art Décoratif Tshokwe: Museu do Dundo published in 1961. Furthermore, Fundação Sindika Dokolo is in negotiations about purchasing a fourth Mwana Pwo mask which has been found in a private collection in Europe.

Sindika Dokolo says, “Now is the time for all of Angola's lost cultural treasures to return home, where they can play their role to the full; a role that will help strengthen Angola's culture and knowledge, and enhance and increase our country’s heritage. As a foundation promoting arts and cultural accomplishments, we will pursue our efforts in expanding our public mission of recovering the history of our ancestry and enriching it in every aspect, as well as, our continuous work in supporting the young and upcoming generation of artists.”

Before the Mwana Pwo mask is returned to the museum, it will travel to Luanda where it will be displayed alongside three further looted pieces acquired last year by Fundação Sindika Dokolo at the newly built Museo da Moeda (Currency museum) in Luanda as part of La Triennale di Luanda next month.

Fundação Sindika Dokolo was established by businessman and art collector Sindika Dokolo in Luanda, Angola in 2006. Born in Kinshasa to a Congolese father and Danish mother, he began building one of the most important collections in Africa in 2003 which now holds more than 5000 works of classical and contemporary art from the continent.

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