This mask was carved in the style of a Bwoom mask from the Kuba people of DRC. The mask was decorated with metal plating over the forehead along with beads and cowrie shells throughout. This beautiful mask measures 11 inches tall and weighs 4 pounds. Some metal plating is missing under the right eye and there is wear and tear throughout. Please inspect photos.
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Wood, pigment, vegetable fiber, fabric, hair, cowrie shells, metal and beads
Missing metal under eye. Imperfections and wear and tear.
About the Kuba People
“During the 16th century, the Kuba migrated from the north and settled between the Sankuru and Kasai Rivers. Today, they number 250,000 and are subdivided into a number of tribes – the Bushoong, the Ngeende, the Kete, the Lele, the Binji, The Dengese, the Mbuun and the wongo. Each clan pays tribute to the Nyim, the king of the Bushoong ruling clan, but their internal affairs are dealt with autonomously. The Bushoong king and his court lived in a closed palace, known as the Mushenge. The king was responsible for the wealth and fecundity of his people.
Each clan within the Kuba kingdom produced artistic objects with specific characteristics, but there are common stylistic features, including predilection for incised geometric decoration. Cups, zoomorphic divination instruments and boxes were produced throughout the realm.”
Baquart, Jean-Baptiste. The Tribal Arts of Africa. New York: Thames and Hudson Inc. 1998. Print.
About the Bwoom Mask
A Bwoom mask is a wooden helmet illuminated by many traditions. It is identifiable by the bulging forehead, big nose and large ears. Other features may include metal work on the face, beadwork and or cowrie shells which would indicate wealth and royal status. Bwoom is said to be a spirit first seen by nkan initiates and is one who opposes the king’s authority. Legends say Bwoom came about due to King Miko mi-Mbul who had gone mad after killing the children of his predecessor. After he became sane, he would return to madness each time he wore the mask of Mwaash aMbooy (the most important royal mask only worn by the king). He was offered an alternative by a pygmy artist, and after suffering no ill effects with the new mask, he accepted it (Bwoom).