African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Musangwe Tabwa Mask
Musangwe Tabwa Mask (N° 10172)
Former Belgian private collection of African art Jan Putteneers.
The Tabwa are an ethnic group in southeastern DRC. Simple farmers without centralized power, they united around tribal leaders after being influenced by the Luba. It was mainly during this period that their artistic current was expressed mainly through statues but also through masks.
The Tabwa worshipped ancestors and dedicated some of their statues to them. Animists, their beliefs are anchored around ngulu, nature spirits present in plants and rocks.
The helmet mask here in a slightly flattened spherical shape is equipped with geometric scarifications from the corner of the eyes and the cracks of the mouth and extending to the ears. Scarifications and body modifications were commonplace in ethnicity.
A special attention is attached to the scarifications that entangled the body and recalled social values. These zoomorphic masks are female representations that were worn during fertility rituals for infertile women.