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 is typical of a 'female' kifwebe mask, with protruding mouth and lips and a triangular nose shape. However, it also has the 'male' kifwebe mask attribute of a highly pronounced comb, projecting from the upper crest of the skull to the bridge of the nose. The combination of male-female characteristics is intriguing and more research is being done as to its original stylist linage.

In Songye masks, 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 important leaders. It is believed by the members of the kifwebe society that when they wear these masks, they are able to gain magical powers and manipulate the spirits under their control.

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Kifwebe Mask

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