The African Mfondo and Nkaki masks, with slightly dissimilar nasal profiles, are difficult to distinguish. The Nkaki would have a nose lost in the hairstyle, sometimes extending into a crest. The Mvondo has a shorter nose, here surmounted by a triangular hairstyle reproducing the angular forehead. Red ocher patina, slight erosion and localized crack on one side.
Height on base: 46 cm.
The Lwalwa live near the Kasai River, between Angola and Zaire. Historically having a matrilineal society, the Lwalwa after having been influenced by Luba and Songye, adopted a patrilineal system within their rudimentary political and social organization.
The male nkaki mask, carved in mulela wood, is one of the four types of masks produced by the privileged caste formed by their sculptors: These craftsmen, according to their merits, can become chefs and organize dances, including the balango, (also bangongo) during which acrobatics are performed by young dancers.
These masks, appearing at night to protect women, are exhibited or worn during initiation ceremonies, or to appease the spirits after an unsuccessful hunt.
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