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    Description

    Warrior's Mask, Salampasu, Democratic Republic of Congo
    Probably early 20th century

    wood, copper, fiber, split bamboo or cane

    The Salampasu are a Bantu people of the southern savannah area. They are subsistence farmers and hunters living in small villages under the leadership of chiefs who are subservient to regional chiefs. This power hierarchy is balanced by a powerful male warrior society, the Ibuku, in every village. The Ibuku society also protects villages from the attacks of neighboring peoples.

    Boys are initiated into the lowest rank of the Ibuku society when they are in the circumcision camp. At this time their teeth are filed to points as a test of fortitude and to make them look fierce. Wood masks styled like the present example appear. They have bulging foreheads, recessed or slanted eyes, triangular noses, pointed chins and rectangular open mouths showing intimidating pointed warrior's teeth, hair represented by a number of rolled up hollow spheres of split bamboo or cane and beards made of one or two of these spheres attached to the chin by plaited fiber cords. Masks are virtually the only known Salampasu art form, except for a few relief-carved figures.

    A man becomes a full member of the Ibuku society by killing an enemy in battle, or secretly, in the bush. He is then entitled to wear the warrior's mask, Kasangu. He gains power in the society by obtaining the right to wear other masks. He "owns" each new mask by performing stipulated deeds, making large payments of livestock and drink to other Ibuku members and receiving instruction about the symbolism and function of each new mask from other senior owners. A warrior entitled to wear many masks is thus an elder respected not only for his age but also for his knowledge and wealth.

    A mask like the present example that is covered with strips of local copper, a precious substance, is called Mukinka and is worn only by the highest rank of the Ibuku warrior's society at the funerals of its oldest, most respected members.

    Provenance:
    Purchased from TAD Tribal Art, Santa Fe, NM

    Height: 12 ½ inches


    Condition Report*: Condition report available upon request.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2015
    6th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 7
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 741

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