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Democratic Republic of Congo

Details

23. Songye Kifwebe mask, D.R.C.,
wood and pigments, 14 1/3" (36.5 cm)
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23. Songye Kifwebe mask, D.R.C., wood and pigments, 14 1/3" (36.5 cm)
  The Kifwebe masks are used by several ethnic groups living near the Songye, including the Luba. They are still in use today, and their true functions are a closely guarded secret. They may act as policing agents or to intimidate an enemy in times of war. The masks appear as both male and female, distinguished by coloration, the females being predominantely white. The mask and costume as well as the associated colors all have complex symbolic meanings and associations with the animal world. Elements in the mask are abstractions of certain animals (antelope, lions, zebras, bushbacks, crocodiles, etc) whose intrinsic qualities are reflected in the power and demeanor of the mask itself. This particular example is one of the oldest styles known. The sagittal crest, or ridge, on the top middle of the mask, denotes a male mask , as does the predominantly red color.

Collection of Charlie and Blanche Derby

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