African art > Mask > Hemba Mask
Hemba Mask (N° 16406)
The Hemba are a subgroup of the Luba ethnic group living in southeastern Dr. Congo, east of the Lualaba River, best known for their statuary representing chiefs. The pieces called soko mutu , suku muntu , (from Swahili," man's brother", and KiHemba, ibombo ya soho : "face de singe") belonged to the cult of ancestors and existed in two forms: on the one hand large masks used in ritual dances, and on the other hand, small masks or statuettes used as gifts, were hung in the boxes as protective amulets. These masks have recently been renamed mwisi gwa so'o , which expresses a concept that it is a chimpanzee spirit that would be embodied in the mask.
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Stylized version of the simiesque mask, this sculpture is characterized by its powerful formal contrasts, the pointed forehead under which the eyes contrast to the large semi-spherical split jaw. Lacks and abrasions of use, cracks.
Source: Art and life in Africa , C D. Roy. and "The other face" ed. Adam Biro.
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