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Bakongo Villi Portrait Mask White Congo African Art

Product #: 112583
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Title Bakongo Villi Portrait Mask White Congo African Art
Type of Object MaskĀ 
Country of Origin Democratic Republic of Congo
People Bakongo, Villi
Materials Wood, pigment
Approximate Age 20th century
Dimensions Height: 10.5 Inches
Width: 6 Inches
Depth: 3.5 Inches
Overall Condition fair to good
Damage/Repair worn surface, some chips and minor cracks

Additional Information:  An expressive mask, the facial features are carved with great concern for detail and naturalistic expression that are often found in the masks of the Villi.  Masks are used during initiations and funerals of important individuals, or they may have social control functions or used by diviners and healers.  When used by diviners the mask exercised power in the same fashion as the well-known nkissi figures (also known as nail fetishes).  The subtle relief carving of the face with the prominent mouth showing carved teeth add to the character of this mask.  Among neighboring Kongo peoples red is used for bravery, male potency; black for darkness and white to illustrate illumination and knowledge or femininity, fertility and social harmony.  White also makes reference to female ancestral spirits known as simbi. The inner side of the mask is smoothed reflecting use over an extended period of time.

 Recommended  Reading:  

J. Cornet;  Art of Africa, Treasures from the Congo.  1971

 E. M. Maurer and Niangi, B.:  Spirits Embodied: Art of the Congo. 1999.

 Art of the Congo, Walker Art Center