African art > Mask > Masquette Songye
Masquette Songye Kifwebe (N° 18549)
Divided into wide stripes of previously contrasting colours, this songye mask has an imposing sagittal crest. The eyelids stretch towards the temples. Like a beak, the parallelepiped mouth protrudes. Height on a base: 32 cm. Patina mate, erosions.
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This types of African Kifwebe masks are listed: the masculine (kilume) usually with a high crest, the feminine (kikashi) would present a more modest or absent crest, and finally the greater embodying power (kia ndoshi). In the 16th century, the Songyes migrated from the Shaba region to settle on the left bank of the Lualaba. Their society is organized in a patriarchal way. Their history is inseparable from that of the Luba to whom they are related through common ancestors. The Songyes have created impressive statues with powerful features often used during secret ceremonies, covered with accessories such as feathers, skin and a horn full of magical charge.
Alers present in their society, divination made it possible to discover the sorcerers and to shed light on the causes of the misfortunes that afflicted individuals. Also used by the Luba, worn with a long suit and a long beard made of natural fibers, the Kifwebe masks acted as a secret police in favor of power, so as to control individuals through magic. They also appeared during crucial stages of the initiation ceremonies.
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