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Salampasu Mask with Jagged Teeth Congo African Art

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Title Salampasu Mask with Jagged Teeth Congo African Art
Type of Object Mask
Country of Origin Democratic Republic of Congo
People Salampasu
Materials Wood, pigment,l fibers
Approximate Age 20th century
Height (in) 13
Width (in) 9
Depth (in) 9
Dimensions Height: 13 Inches
Width: 9 Inches
Depth: 9 Inches
21 Inch length with hanging decoration
Overall Condition Fair
Damage/Repair Hole above mouth, damage to fibers, cracks, chips and a well worn patina

Additional Information: While not the famous copper-sheeted form, this mask still displays clear Salampasu features. The bulging forehead and jagged teeth are clues that this mask was made by a Salampasu carver. A bare-bones version of the well known form.

The Salampasu people who live east of the Kasai and on the upper western reaches of the Lulua River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and even flow over into Angola. They have had long term contact with the Lwalwa to the north and to the south the Lunda who they recognize by paying tributes to them. The Salampasu are best known for their powerfully aggressive masks covered with copper sheeting or with prominent carved scarification patterns on the face.

Masks among the Salampasu are known under different names, Munkika, Kasangu and Mulandwa. This one is most likely a Kasangu mask. All these masks were worn during initiation into the men’s warrior societies Idangani and Ibiku, during funeral ceremonies for dignitaries and in Boys' initiation and circumcision rituals. The dancer of this mask wears a knitted costume and holds a knife and antelope horns in his hands. See photo in Elisabeth Cameron (1988:34).

Salampasu masks are rare to find. This one will be of good addition to any collection.

Recommended Reading:

Cameron, E.L, 1988, "SALA MPASU MASKS", African Arts, 22 (I):34-43, 89