This mask was carved in the style of a Songye Kifwebe. The lack of a finial crest indicates that it is meant to represent a female figure. The mask measures 18 inches tall, 21 inches including stand, and weighs 1.5 pounds. There is some cracking, chipping and general wear and tear – please inspect photos.
Songye Style Kifwebe Mask 18″ w/ Stand – DRC – African Art
|Type of Object||
|Country of Origin||
18" mask | 21" including stand
1.5 lbs mask | 4.5 lbs including stand
About the Songye People
“During the 16th century, the Songye migrated from the Shaba area, which is now the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), and settled on the left bank of the Lualaba River, on a savannah and forest-covered plateau. Divided into numerous sub-groups, the 150,000 Songye people are governed by a central chief, the Yakitenge, whose role demands that he obey special restrictive laws such as not showing grief, not drinking in public and not shaking hands with men. In addition, local rulers, the Sultani Ya Muti, distribute plots of land to their villagers and an influential secret society, Bwadi Bwa Kifwebe, counterbalances their power. Unlike their neighbors, the Luba, the Songye tribe is a patriarchal society in which agriculture is central to the economy.”
Baquart, Jean-Baptiste. The Tribal Arts of Africa. New York: Thames and Hudson Inc. 1998. Print.
About the Kifwebe Mask
“The most famous masks created by the Songye are worn in connection with the Bwadi Bwa Kifwebe secret society. They are called Kifwebe, which means ‘mask’ in the Songye language. It can either be masculine, if carved with a central crest, or feminine if displaying a plain coiffure. The size of the crest determines the magical power of the mask. During initiation, circumcision or funeral ceremonies, a dancer will wear the mask and his body will be covered with straw.”