Africa Direct
Africa Direct

Hemba Passport Mask Ibombo Ya Soho Congo African Art

AvailabilityIn stock
Special Price $74.00 Regular Price $120.00
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Title Hemba Passport Mask Ibombo Ya Soho Congo African Art
Type of Object Mask
Country of Origin Democratic Republic of Congo
People Hemba
Materials Wood, pigment
Approximate Age 20th century
Height (in) 6.5
Width (in) 5.5
Depth (in) 4
Overall Condition Good. 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.

Additional Information: Masks like this are a common theme among the Hemba people who live west of Lake Tanganyika and east of the Congo River. Their sculpture has often been mistakenly identified to the Luba who are their larger neighbors. This monkey faced mask is worn not on the face but at the waist at the belt line. It is known among the Hemba simply as (Mwisi Gwa So'o, "ibombo ya soho" or "Soko Muntu" which means 'monkey mask"

The masks Ibombo ya soho represent the idea of death when they are danced at funerals. The exaggerated features of the Soho mask represents a creature of the bush that is half human and half monkey. It is a being that can be either dangerous or helpful. The personification of this being depicts the potential of nature and the need to control its excesses through the dancing of the men’s society Ibombo ya Soho masks. These masks are not very large and upon occasions are worn at dancer’s waists or kept in the house to protect the household from malevolent forces.

The Hemba monkey mask reflects the ability of the African artist to characterize the idea of life and death in brooding sculptural form, as well as the dancer’s ability to impart the lessons of living within a rationally structured society.

for example of the same type of the masks see Maria Kecskeisi (Ed.), AFRICAN MASK FROM THE BARBIER-MUELLER COLLECTION, GENEVA, Cat 92