African art > Mask > Hemba Mask
Soko Mutu Hemba Mask (N° 17785)
This African mask embodies the spirit of a primate. Beneath the eyebrow arches between which a long nose points, the grimace in a bulging chin squints the eyelids in coffee bean. Abrasions revealing remnants of a polychrome pastillage. Break under the chin.
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Only two types of Hemba masks have been identified: that of an anthropomorphic type with regular features, whose pointed chin recalls statuary, and those depicting monkeys, the soko mutu , and whose functions remain little known, but which probably belonged, according to J.Kerchache, to the secret societies bugabo and bambudye . The smallest copies (about 20 centimetres) are said to have been carried by hand during rituals intended for the protection of the home and fertility. In addition to the janiform statuettes kabeja, the statues of male ancestors, kept by the hereditary leader of each clan, the fumu mwalo , are called songiti .
Thince the Hemba settled on the vast plains of the right bank of the Lualaba in the 18th century. Their society consists of large clans from a common ancestor. The discovery of hemba statuary dates back to decolonization and has only recently been differentiated from that of the Luba.
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|Country||rdc ex zaire|
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