In the south-west of the Congo, and in Angola and Zambia, each chief had a female caryarid seat, an image of fecundity and fertility and of matrilineal descent. An African figure with the features of the Kifwebe mask plays the role of caryatid here. This type of seat could also serve as a pedestal for mankishi (sing. nkishi) fetishes. These seats were sometimes charged with a bishimba at the level of the head, the umbilicus or in the base.
Three variants of this Kifwebe (pl. Bifwebe) or "chasing death" (Roberts) mask stand out: the masculine (kilume) generally with a high crest, the feminine (kikashi) with a very low or even absent crest, and finally the greater 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 with a long suit and a long beard made of natural fibres, absent on this example, during the most important ceremonies.
The Songye came from the Shaba region in the DRC and settled between the Lualaba River and the Sankuru River in the middle of savannah and forests. They are governed by the yakitenge and by local chiefs. The Bwadci secret society, however, counterbalances their power. (Luba, F. Neyt)
Light brown patina, erosions and desication cracks.
Lit. : "The Sensible and the Force" ed. Royal Museum for Central Africa
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