This mask is worn in masquerades during funeral celebrations.
The white color, a genderless attribute, signifies peace, the deities, the spirits of the dead, and the afterlife. The domed forehead, high cheek bones, delicately etched eyes, high arched eyebrows, beautiful coiffure, and streamlined chin all represent feminine beauty of the Punu people.
The scarification arranged in a lozenge on the forehead and the the hair style similar to a bivalve shell are also feminine attributes. It is said that the scarification has sexual meaning, an argument that supports that these masks are female representations. Those without scarification are said to be male.
The lozenge generally is made up of nine fish scales.
To the Punu people, the number nine in multiples of three has symbolic meaning, recurring in many rituals and ceremonies.
A dancer wears this mask, representing the spirit of a female ancestor, and a costume covering his entire body made of skins and raffia. The dancer tilts this mask forward and preforms on the stilts, carrying a whip of dried grasses in each hand.
As this dancer towers over his spectators, he is said to be dancing between the living world and the world of the ancestors.
Punu masks represent the idealized beauty of Punu women, and should only be carved by Punu men.
(source 1; 2)