African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Kumu mask
Kumu, Komo mask (N° 20499)
African mask whose pastillage, which could be related to the panther, bears the imprint of the pygmy influence.
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A ridge divides the forehead and extends over the nose, while the oblique eyes are atypical. The pouting mouth reveals a row of spaced teeth. Matt patina, old polychromy. Erosions.
According to M.L. Félix, the African masks produced by the clans living in the north of the Ituri region mostly adopt stylized features sculpted on a shallow base, and their decoration evokes the animal world, accompanied by color pigments similar to those that adorn the bodies during initiation rites. Similar masks, decorated with dotted lines, were however worn in Ubangi by the Ndunga and Zande of the northeast, where initiates and elders wore this type of body paint on certain occasions.
Total height on base: 29 cm.
The Kumu, Bakumu, Komo, live mainly in the northeast and center in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Their Bantu language is Komo or Kikomo. Several ethnic groups are closely intertwined, with similar associations: the Mbole, Yela, Lengola, and Metoko. Their artistic production also has great similarities with that of the Metoko and Lengola. Their divination masks were exhibited at the closing ceremonies of the initiation and circumcision of the youth of the nkunda society.
It is indeed in the Maniema region around the Lualaba River and the Great Lakes that Lega sculpture has largely exerted its influence. A costume made of bark textiles and plant fibers concealed the wearer. Biebuck would have noted a great similarity between the rituals accompanying the appearance of Kumu masks and those of the muminia masks of the Lega.
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