African art > Mask > Masque Tetela
Masque Tetela / Songye (N° 16961)
The large rictus of this mask reproduces that of some Songye fetishes depicted wearing a Kifwebe mask. A network of fine white-coated engravings, however, are combined with hollowed-out patterns dyed in dark red. Slightly abraded patina.
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Eparated in the Kasai Basin, the Tetela of Mongo origin have been the source of incessant conflicts with their neighbours. They also participated extensively in the slave trade. Their very diverse sculpture is marked by the influence of groups living in contact with them: in the North, their art has been subjected to the influence of forest populations such as the Mongo, in the northwest that of Nkutschu, and in the west that of Binji and Mputu. The traditions Kuba were also a source of inspiration, as were those of the Songye to the southwest. Their fetishes are kept out of sight. Animists, they seek to appease and direct the elements thanks to the sorcerer Wichi and the priest Umpa. Their traditional currency of exchange, " dikonga", in the form of spearheads, has also helped to promote the talent of their blacksmiths and those of the Nkutschu.
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