African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Bena Lulua mask
Lulua, Luluwa mask (N° 20242)
The powerful expressiveness of this mask lies in the projected volumes, the large globes with globular eyelids characteristic of the Luluwa, the curvilinear and pellet-like keloids protruding from the black surface.
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The Lulua masks were used mainly during circumcision rites and at the funerals of notables.
According to Rik Ceyssens in "Congo Masks" (p.156. ed. M.L.Félix) and as attested by the sketches of H.M.Lemme who accompanied Frobenius on his trips to the Congo, this pattern of looped scarification was widespread among various Luluwa sub-groups in 1905. The Bakwa also sported this type of tribal scarring.
br>It was in the south of the Democratic Republic of Congo that the Lulua , or Béna Lulua ,from West Africa settled. Their social structure, based on castes, is similar to that of the Luba. They produced few masks, but mostly statues of ancestors representing the ideal warrior, mulalenga wa nkashaama, as well as the chief of the Leopard society and statuettes mbulenga related to nature spirits. Despite Kalamba Mukwenge's attempt, at the end of the nineteenth century, to eradicate traditional cults by means of auto-da-fes, the religious system continued, such as the fertility cult tshibola .
(Tribal art of black Africa. JB Bacquart; "Umbangu, Art du Congo au Musée Royal du Cogo Belge" ed. Cultura
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