The Kwele or Bakwele (plural), are an ethnic group indigenous to Central Africa, established northwest of the Republic of Congo, on the border with Gabon. Some also live in southern Cameroon. The Kwele are renowned for their art of masks carving. Their most famous masks are fairly flat, with a white heart-shaped face, incised eyes and a triangular nose. Called Ekuk they were worn during initiation ceremonies of worship bwete (or beete), they were also hung in homes to attract beneficial forces. The bwete ritual which usually lasted a week, opened with the departure of all valid men for a hunting party in the forest, in order to track an antelope whose flesh was to be eaten at the closing dinner of the ceremony. After a day or two, hunters wearing Ekuk masks were then coming out of the forest, entering the village and inviting the rest of the community to dance and sing. Ekuk means both "spirit of the forest" and "children of bwete". This particular mask represents an antelope with its two large horns.
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