African art > African mask > Royal Mask Kuba Mwash a mboy
Royal Mask Kuba Mwash a mboy (N° 8624)
This kuba mask is arguably the best known in African art.
Altht a rich decoration of cauris and raffia. There are many regional stylistic interpretations of the Mwash a moby mask, but the most marked features of the mask are invariably the stripped face and the trunk-shaped headdress.
More than twenty types of masks are used in the Kuba, with meanings and functions that vary from group to group. Three types of masks have been associated with dances that take place in the royal precinct: the first, called Moshambwooy, depicts Woot, the founder of the Bushoong, the hero of culture. The second, known as Nady Amwaash (Ngaady Un Mwash), plays Woot's wife/sister, a character who was reportedly introduced to give greater importance to the role of women. The third mask is called Bwoom. As a character, Bwoom was variously interpreted as a prince (the king's younger brother), a man of the people, a Pygmy, even a subversive element to the royal court.