DescriptionKUBA, Democratic Republic of Congo
Wood, pigments, fiber cloth, fiber
The many ethnic groups that are components of the Kuba state use over twenty different types of masks for initiation rites, funeral ceremonies held for important, title-holding men, and for public ceremonies and entertainments. Although the first mask is said to have been invented by a woman, who carved a face on a calabash, the idea was quickly taken over by men, who then excluded women from either the making or wearing of masks. Uses, names, meanings and physical details of the various mask types change over time and from one group to another, but in general, with the exception of the three royal types most Kuba masks are manifestations of nature spirits serving as intermediaries between gods and people.
Like most Kuba masks, the present example is a combination of a brightly painted wood mask whose black and white geometric patterns follow the basic architecture of the carved human face and woven fiber cloth attached to serve as a hood. Carved wood human ears are attached to the hood and raffia fiber is sewn through holes around the jaw line as a beard. The dancer can see through a series of unobtrusive holes following the lower edges of the eyes.
The Robert V. Berg Collection
Height: 15 ½ inches
Estimate: $3,000 - $5,000.
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