Deformity in African tribal art .
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This figure shows two heads with faces characteristic of the "disease" mask Pende Mbangu . The latter refers to the patient in epileptic seizure or the result of facial paralysis caused by witchcraft rituals. Within many tribal cultures, however, epilepsy would be seen as a divine seal on an individual who is able to communicate in this way with the spirit world.
The dancer who wears this comedy mask is wearing a hat made of gifuatu guinea fowl, coucal or touraco feathers, or the lumbandu , a crown of leaves. It is also often equipped with a hump on the back, exaggerating then the handicapped appearance of the character. A hat composed of a basketry frame trimmed with raffia caps the face, itself lined with canvas.
Polychrome matt patina. Desiccation cracks.
The Western Pende live on the banks of the Kwilu, while the Eastern Pende have settled on the banks of the Kasai downstream from Tshikapa. The influences of the neighboring ethnic groups, Mbla, Suku, Wongo, Leele, Kuba and Salempasu have been imprinted on their extensive tribal art sculpture. Within this diversity the Mbuya masks , realistic, produced every ten years, take on a festive function, and embody different characters, including the chief fumu or ufumu, the diviner and his wife, the prostitute, the jester, tundu , the possessed, etc...
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