African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Songye mask

Songye mask (N° 22345)

Three variants of this mask Kifwebe ( pl. Bifwebe) or "chasing death" (Roberts), of the society of the same name, are distinguished: the masculine (kilume) generally with a high crest, the feminine (kikashi) with a very low or even absent crest, and finally the tallest embodying power (kia ndoshi). This type of mask, still used today, seems to come from the border zone between the northern Luba and the Southeastern Songye. They are worn by a Kifwebe dancer in a state of "bwadi" trances, accessorized with a long braided costume and a long adornment in natural fibers attached to the contours of the mask, during major ceremonies. Height on base: 36 cm.
The Songye came from the Shaba region in the DRC and settled along the Lualaba River in the middle of savannah and forests. They are governed by the yakitenge and by local chiefs. The Bwami secret society, however, counterbalances their power. Their masculine masks were exhibited during punitive and disciplinary expeditions.  

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OriginEx-collection néelandaise
EthnySongye
Countryrdc ex zaire
Material(s)wood
Height cm25
Width14 cm
Weight0.81 Kg
Estimated datingcirca 1960
Socle includedYes

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