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Songye Kifwebe Mask Congo African Art 22 Inch

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Title Songye Kifwebe Mask Congo African Art 22 Inch
Type of Object Mask
Country of Origin Democratic Republic of Congo
People Songye
Materials Wood, pigment
Approximate Age 20th century
Height (in) 22
Width (in) 11
Depth (in) 12
Dimensions Height: 22 Inches
Width: 11 Inches
Depth: 12 Inches
Overall Condition Fair
Damage/Repair Cracks, chips and a well worn patina

Additional Information: The present mask belongs to the category of the most famous Songye masks knowns as Kifwebe and made for the Bwadi Bwa Kifwebe Secret society. "Kifwebe" means "Mask" in the Songye language.This is a female character recognized by the abscence of a central crest. .

According to Hersak (1985: 168), "the striated masks, or kifwebe, are used as agents of a tradition and figures of authority to exercise social and political control through practices of evil magic and witchcraft by the members of the bwadi bwa kifwebe society. Among the societies public performances, three mask types exist: two grades of male and one female mask. Male masks are distinguished by a striated pattern of three colors while the female one is predominantly white with the features accented in black and some red... The Kifwebe tradition which exists also among the Luba, seems to have originated south of the eastern chiefdom in an area of Luba/Songe admixture. The Songye confirm this provenance by the interpretation that the kifwebe striations relate (apart from the zebra) to a pugnacious species of striped bushbuck antelope which inhabited the area."

Recommended Reading:

Cornet, J., A Survey of Zairian Art, North Carolina Museum of Art, 1978

Dunja Hersak,Songye Masks and sculpture figures, 1985