Collection

Kifwebe Mask

Kifwebe Mask

Songye, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Early 20th Century,
Incised Wood, Pigment, 15" x 7".

This mask is carved with deeply incised grooves in a striated, geometric pattern that continues across the forehead, cheeks, and lower sections of the face. This pattern and design would typically lead one to believe that this is a ‘female’ Kifewbe mask with a protruding mouth and lips, and with a triangular nose shape. However, the ‘male’ Kifwebe mask is known for a highly pronounced comb, which projects from the upper crest of the skull to the bridge of the nose. This combination of characteristics is intriguing and more research is being done as to its original use or assignation of gender.

The white pigment symbolizes peace or purity of the soul. This type of mask is used in ritual ceremonies and for the funeral processions of leaders of great importance. It is believed that when members of the Kifwebe society wear these masks that they are able to gain magical powers and manipulate the spirits under their control..

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Kifwebe Mask

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