African art > Mask > Songye Mask
Masquette Songye (N° 16668)
Named kikashi, this miniature version of the Songye African mask has classic features. The ridge here is pierced with holes. Parallel furrows, encrusted with white kaolin, adorn the surface of the wood, symbolizing plumage and the link with death.
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Patine abraded by time and use, dry and velvety. Slight gaps.
Height on a pedestal: 30 cm.
Three variants of this mask Kifwebe (pl. Bifwebe) or "Chasing the mort" (Roberts) stand out: the masculine (kilume) usually with a high crest, the feminine (kikashi) with a very low crest see absent, and finally the largest embodying power (kia ndoshi). This type of mask, still used today, appears to originate from the adjacent area between the northern Luba and the Southeastern Songye. They are worn with a long suit and a long beard made of natural fibers, absent on this copy, during the most important ceremonies. The Songye came from the Shaba region of the DRC and settled along the Lualaba River in the middle of the savannah and forests. They are governed by the yakitengé and local leaders. The secret bwami society, however, counterbalances their power. Their male masks, with occult powers, were displayed during punitive and disciplinary expeditions.
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