Rare figurative version of the African mask Songye, the kikashi , embodying a positive force. The flat nasofrontal ridge usually indicates that this is a female mask. Parallel streaks are etched on the pigmented white surface. Erosions.
Three variants of this Kifwebe mask (pl. Bifwebe) or "chasing death" (Roberts), from the company of the same name, stand out: the masculine (kilume) usually with a high crest, the feminine (kikashi) with a very low or even absent crest, and finally the largest one embodying power (kia ndoshi). This type of mask, still used today, seems to come from the border area between the northern Luba and the Southeast Songye. They are worn by a Kifwebe dancer in a state of "bwadi" trance, accessorized with a long braided costume and a long set of natural fibers attached to the contours of the mask, during major ceremonies. The Songye came from the Shaba region of the DRC and settled along the Lualaba River amid savannah and forests. They are governed by the yakitenge and by local chiefs. The secret society Bwami, however, balances their power. Their male masks, with occult powers, were exhibited during punitive and disciplinary expeditions.
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