African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Kuba mask
Kuba mask (N° 22334)
Belgian African art collection.
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Called Ishyeenmaal, Ishendemale or even Pwoom itok, this African Kuba mask recalls the old hairstyle of Kuba warriors since worn by the chiefs. Projecting conical eyes may refer to the chameleon. The forehead evokes the characteristic hairstyles of Kuba women. The mask has a dark patina. Abrasions from use.
The most prolific group of African art from Western Kasai, the Kuba, or lightning people, developed their art around the royal person. This prestigious culture was made famous by its masks, including the large royal masks, very elaborate objects of power used as currency between groups. Also famous are their Ndop royal statuettes and the "velvets of Kasai". Over twenty types of masks are used, with meanings and functions that vary from group to group. Ritual ceremonies were an opportunity to exhibit decorative arts and masks, in order to honor the spirit of the deceased or to honor the king. Three types of masks have been associated with dances that take place in the royal compound: the first, called Moshambwooy, represents Woot, the founder of the culture hero Bushoong sub-tribe. The second, known as Nady Amwaash (Ngaady Un Mwash), plays Woot's wife/sister, a character said to have been introduced in order to give more prominence to the role of women. The third mask is called Bwoom. This copy intended according to Cornet for initiation ceremonies for young people does not fall into the category of royal masks. Torday and Joyce indicate that the Ngongo of the babende secret society used this mask in company with the bundu and the gore moashi