African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Bembe mask
Bembé Echawokaba hem mask (N° 18333)
This African mask was used during the tribal ritual of the male society Kalunga, Alunga, exercising social control over the clan, and responsible for public dances and pre-hunting ceremonies. A mask that embodies the god Alunga, it has four tall and wide concave orbits in which a pupil protrudes. Growths, on which feathers were attached, evoke small ears or horns. Its circular base is equipped with perforations in order to be able to fix the raffia adornment to conceal its wearer. Evocation of a spirit of the forest, this mask was preserved in sacred caves and it was during the festivals associated with hunting and the cults of ancestors that it was exhibited. Flat masks with the same concave orbits also appeared during the circumcision ceremonies of the Bwami . Dry crusty patina grey brown and red ochre. Abrasions.
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The Bembe is a Luba branch line that is believed to have left Congo in the 18th century. Their society and artistic tendency are influenced by their neighbours in the Lake Tanganyika region, the Lega, the Buyu, etc. Indeed, like the Lega, the Bembe had an association bwami responsible for initiation and structuring for society but while the bwami was exclusive to the Lega, other associations coexisted among the Bembe.
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