African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Hehe mask
Hehe mask (N° 22261)
Ex-Belgian African art collection.
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This flat Kumu mask sometimes falsely attributed to the Héhé of Tanzania is divided into two contrasting colors. Velvety matte patina.
The African masks nsembu, embodying the spirit of divination, usually appear in pairs during the rites of the nkunda, babankunda society. The Kumu, Bakumu, Komo, live mainly in the North-East and in the center of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Their Bantu language is Komo or Kikomo. Several ethnic groups are closely intertwined, endowed with similar associations: the Mbole, the Yela, the Lengola, and the Metoko. Their artistic production also presents great similarities with that of the Metoko and the Lengola. Their divination masks were exhibited during the closing ceremonies of the initiation and circumcision of the young people of the Nkunda society. It is indeed in the Maniema region around the Lualaba River and the Great Lakes that Lega sculpture has largely exerted its influence. A costume made of bark textiles and plant fibers concealed the wearer. Biebuck would have noted a great similarity between the rituals accompanying the appearance of the Kumu masks and those of the muminia masks of the Lega.
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