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A close-up of a statue  Description automatically generated with medium confidence

Mask (Mukudj), 19th–20th century, Gabon, Ngounié River region, Punu peoples, Wood, pigment, kaolin, H. 13 1/2 x W. 7 1/2 x D. 6 1/2 in. (34.3 x 19.1 x 16.5 cm), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Formal analysis

Mask (Mukudj) is an artwork made of wood, pigment and kaolin. It is 13 1/2 tall by 7 1/2 inches wide by 6 1/2 inches deep. It depicts a human face with either a head dress or an elaborate hair style. In this formal analysis, I will focus on the elements of line, form, and color. I will also discuss balance, scale and emphasis.

Line, form, and color are used prominently in this mask. First, line is used to define the parts of the face, including the eyebrows, eyes, nose, ears and mouth. These are represented in simplified ways and without much detail. The eye brows are suggested by a curved line. These lines are echoed by two lines in the shape of the eyes. The eye lids are closed, which is shown by the use of a dark brown or black curved line. The nose is a little more detailed. The bridge of the nose is emphasized through the use of color. The bridge is painted in a bright orange that stands out from the pale yellow in the background. Two lines define the nostrils. They too are emphasized because they are also painted with the same orange. Below the center of the nose is a line that suggests a cavity that is naturally occurring on some faces. The lips are colored in a dark brown. The project from the face, suggesting fullness. The color and form of the lips emphasize this part of the mask.

There are decorative elements on the mask, including a diamond shape divided into nine squares between the eyebrows. Aligning with the eyes on each side of the face are two other grids. However, unlike the one between the eye brows, these take the shape of a square.

The mask is balanced and symmetrical, even in the dark brown hair or headdress, which is divided into four parts. One main line divides it in half vertically. Each of these halves is further divided with a curved line that starts at the forehead, moves upward, and curves down. The surface of the dark brown area is covered in lines that are close together and carved into the wood….