This African tribal mask of the Bembe, associated with the initiation and circumcision rituals of the Butende, has large concave orbits accompanied by animal ears, arranged on an ovoid volume. The barn owl would have inspired these zoomorphic characters. Fracture on the lower contour. Grey beige cracked patina.
The Bembe ethnic group is a branch of the Luba who left the Congo in the 18th century to settle near Tanzania and Burundi. Their society and artistic tendencies are marked by the influence of their neighboring ethnic groups in the Lake Tanganyika region, the Lega, the Buyu, etc. Indeed, like the Lega, the Bembe had a Bwami association responsible for initiation and structuring society, but if the Bwami was exclusive among the Lega, other "bukabo" or "buhabo" associations coexisted among the Bembe, such as the Elanda and Alunga societies.
Within the Bwami, art objects such as masks and statues had the role of helping aspirants to the highest rank, Kindi, to remember the moral rules that they had to know and apply.
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