Variant of the bembe mask, with large whitened orbital cavities. The tip of the nose is erased to leave room for two holes indicating the nostrils. The narrow mouth is just incised. These masks accompanied the rituals of passage during the Bwami circumcision ceremonies.
Two-tone patina. Erosions.
Height on base: 37 cm.
The Bembe ethnic group is a Luba branch that left the Congo in the 18th century to settle near Tanzania and Burundi. Their society and artistic tendencies are marked by the influence of their neighboring ethnic groups in the Lake Tanganyika region, the Lega, the Buyu, etc. Indeed, like the Lega, the Bembe had a Bwami association responsible for initiation and structuring the society, but while the Bwami was exclusive among the Lega, other associations coexisted among the Bembe, such as the Elanda and Alunga societies.
Within the Bwami, art objects such as masks and statues were used to help aspirants to the highest rank, Kindi, to remember the moral rules they had to know and apply.
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