Renowned for their masks whose nose forms a distinctive character, the Lwalwa also sculpted small statuettes devoted to divinatory rites, exhibited on altars. The angular face surmounts here stooped shoulders, whose arms are rounded, spaced from the bust, in an atypical posture, hands placed on the thighs.
Beautiful glossy patina locally abraded, slight cracks.
The Lwalwa live near the Kasai River, between Angola and Zaire. Historically having a matrilineal society, the Lwalwa after undergoing Luba and Songye influence, adopted a patrilineal system within their rudimentary political and social organization.
The male mask nkaki, carved from mulela wood, is one of four types of masks produced by the privileged caste formed by their carvers. These artisans, according to their merits, can become chiefs and organize dances, including the balango, during which acrobatics are performed by young dancers.
These masks are then displayed, or worn during initiation ceremonies, or to appease the spirits after an unsuccessful hunt.
The Lwalwa believe in a supreme god, Mvidie Mukulu , and an omniscient creator Nzambi mukishi who can be offended and consequently cause harm, such as disease. These nature spirits are then invoked by offerings on altars dedicated to them.
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