African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Songye mask

Songye mask (N° 22336)

This small-sized Songye African mask, the kikashi, embodies a positive force. The palpebral clefts, half-closed, are stretched towards the temples, the nose and the protruding mouth. The discreet naso-frontal crest indicates that it is a female mask. Checkerboard patterns alternate on the white pigmented surface.
Abraded matte patina. Erosions.
Height on base: 36 cm.

Three variants of this mask Kifwebe ( pl. Bifwebe) or "chasing death" (Roberts), from the society of the same name, are distinguished: the masculine (kilume) generally with a high crest, the feminine (kikashi) with a very low or absent crest, and finally the tallest embodying power (kia ndoshi). This type of mask, still used today, seems to come from the border zone between the northern Luba and the Southeastern Songye. They are worn by a Kifwebe dancer in a state of "bwadi" trances, accessorized with a long braided costume and a long adornment in natural fibers attached to the contours of the mask, during major ceremonies. The Songye came from the Shaba region in the DRC and settled along the Lualaba River in the middle of savannah and forests. They are governed by the yakitenge and by local chiefs. The Bwami secret society, however, counterbalances their power. Their male masks, with occult powers, were exhibited during punitive and disciplinary expeditions.  

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Originex-collection suisse
Countryrdc ex zaire
Height cm23
Width13 cm
Weight0.69 Kg
Estimated datingmid-xx°
Socle includedYes

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