Africa Direct
Africa Direct

Kuba Moshambwooy Helmet Mask | 60 Inch Elephant | Congo | African Art

AvailabilityIn stock
Special Price $1,200.00 Regular Price $2,500.00
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Type of Object Helmet mask
Country of Origin Democratic Republic of Congo
People Kuba
Materials Wood, beads, cowrie shells, raffia fibers
Approximate Age Mid 20th Century
Height (in) 28
Width (in) 23
Depth (in) 36
Dimensions Stand 52 Inch x 13 Inch x 13 Inch, 60 Inches mask High on stand
Overall Condition Fair. Most of our pieces have spent decades on at least two continents, and have been treasured by several owners.   Small splits, scrapes and cracks are a normal part of their patina attesting to their age and extensive use.  We examine each piece carefully when we receive it and report any damage we find in our listings.  Please look carefully at the pictures which may also reveal condition and damage.
Damage/Repair Dirt, general wear, frayed and broken strands

The stand and mask are both quite large, so they will need to be shipped in separate large boxes, which necessitates the high shipping cost of this item.

Additional Information:

A massive example of a Kuba Bushoong Moshambwooy mask. Standing on a a custom stand for immediate display. Variants of such a mask are also found among the the Ngoongo, sub-group of Kuba people, where they are known as Mukyeem or mukenga mask

For a long time people used to call this type of masks moshambwooy, but there is a substantial difference between these two masks. Examples of Royal Moshambwooy mu Shall are very rare to find. Most of the so-called Moshambwooy housed by public or private collections are of Ngongo workmanship type named Mukyeem mask. They all are helmet masks and decorated with a lot of cowrie shells and beads. On Mukyeem mask, the headdress is extended by a long, central, trunk-like appendage (sometimes with two offshoots) suggesting the elephant's tusk. Attached to the end of the trunk is raffia fibers , which can be replaced by a bright red, tuft of parrot feathers. Moshambwooy is usually topped with a high structure decorated with feathers. There is no elephant tusk-like on moshambwooy (see examples on Face of Spirits).

The greatest of the three "most significant" masks of the BaKuba, this mask represents Woot, the "first ancestor," rather like Adam. He and his brother vied for the affection of their sister, who later married Woot. The mask has a large protruding horn in the form of a bent elephant tusk and decorated with cowrie shells and beads . This horn gives to the name its name of Elephant mask. The headdress is also nicely decorated with cowrie shells. Other details include wooden ears, and nose, eyes in cowrie shells and eyebrows made out of beads.The mask is decorated with a huge raffia ruff.The face is covered with raffia.

This mask is of Ngoongo workmanship. While they have the same shape as the Moshambooy of Kuba Bushoong, the Ngongo masks of this type bear the name Mukyeem. There are small differences, but both masks are associated with power of nature spirits. Both have feathers and an elephant trunk, symbols of authority relating to kingship. They are both helmet masks. On the Mukyeem mask (shown here) the geometric-shaped frame is made of palm fiber with the face inset on a cotton cloth. The carefully sculpted, middle chignon is covered with cowries and beads, symbols of wealth. The headdress is extended by a long, central, trunk-like appendage with two offshoots suggesting elephant tusks.

This type of masks was worn only by princes and dignitaries and used in important ceremonies involving the initiation of young princes (Babieen) or at the burial rites of an important member of the court. Other variants of Mukyeem mask are also found among the Ngeende, and Kete.

For a similar piece see F. Herreman, Constantijn Petridis, FACE OF THE SPIRITS, 1994, fig 63. p. 137