African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Hemba mask
Hemba mask (N° 24683)
African Hemba mask split with a wide grin, referring to a primate. Brown patina, residual kaolin encrustations.
Height on base: 24 cm.
Among the types of Hemba masks identified, an anthropomorphic type is reminiscent of statuary, while those such as our example depicting a monkey, the soko mutu, probably belonged, according to J.Kerchache, to the Bugabo and Bambudye secret societies. Its function remains unknown. The smallest specimens (about twenty centimeters) would have been carried in the 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. The discovery of Hemba statuary dates from decolonization and has only recently been differentiated from that of the Luba.
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|Country||rdc ex zaire|
|Estimated dating||circa 1960|
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