African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Hemba mask

Hemba mask (N° 22104)

According to the Hemba, the spirit of a primate is embodied in this type of African mask with a wide grin occupying the lower part of the face. The imposing volume of the nose, under the circled eyes, is also a notable element. Velvety dark patina. Abrasions and localized crack at the top.
Only two types of Hemba masks have been identified: that of an anthropomorphic type with regular features, whose pointed chin recalls statuary, and those depicting monkeys, the soko mutu, and whose functions remain little known, but which belonged probably, according to J.Kerchache, to the bugabo and bambudye secret societies. The smallest copies (about twenty centimeters) would have been carried by hand during rites intended for the protection of the home and for fertility. Besides the janiform kabeja statuettes, the statues of male ancestors, guarded by the hereditary chief of each clan, the fumu mwalo, are called songiti. It was during the 18th century that the Hemba settled on the vast plains of the right bank of the Lualaba. Their society consists of large clans descended from a common ancestor.  

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OriginCollection suisse
EthnyHemba
Countryrdc ex zaire
Material(s)wood
Height cm26
Width16 cm
Weight0.40 Kg
Socle inclusOptional

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