African art > Mask > KIfwebe Mask

Songye Kifwebe Mask (N° 17499)

African Mask of Songye, the kikashi , it offers protruding eyes, hollowed out, stretched towards the temples and a naso-frontal ridge that boils down to a rib. The parallelepiped mouth has an orifice. Parallel streaks are dug on the surface of the wood, symbolizing the plumage and the connection with death.
This variants of this Kifwebe mask (pl. Bifwebe) or 'chasing death' (Roberts) stand out: the masculine (kilume) usually with a high crest, the feminine (kikashi) with a very low crest see absent, and finally the greatest embodying power (kia ndoshi). This type of mask, still used today, appears to come from the border 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 amidst the savannah and forests. They are governed by the Yakitengé and local chiefs. The secret society Bwami, however, counterbalances their power. Their male masks, with occult powers, were displayed in punitive and disciplinary expeditions.  

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OriginCollection belge
EthnySongye
CountryRDC
Material(s)wood
Height39
Depth21
Width23
Weight0.76 Kg
Estimated datingcirca 1940
Socle inclusOptional

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