|Title||Songye Kifwebe Mask with Beard Leather Congo African Art|
|Type of Object||Mask|
|Country of Origin||Democratic Republic of Congo|
|Materials||Wood, pigment, vegetal fibers|
|Approximate Age||20th century|
|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.|
|Damage/Repair||Some minimal pitting and decoration loss|
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."
Cornet, J., A Survey of Zairian Art, North Carolina Museum of Art, 1978
Dunja Hersak,Songye Masks and sculpture figures, 1985