From the Kuba peoples of the Kasai region, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Wood, cowrie shells, seeds, beads, leather, pigment, hair and various materials. The Kuba are known for their fondness of geometric forms, and are famous fortheir highly detailed and abstract textile designs. This piece is an example of a royal mask, of which there are four types: mooshambwooy, bwoom, nshonoshambwooy and mbelepey. These mask figures are known conceptually as mbeyanyin(friends of the king). Each mask would have a personalized name and was introduced to the king in an elaborate, long-lasting ceremony. These masks were also used in public rituals to celebrate initiations or to reflect mythologiesrelated to the origin of the region.
H. 35 cm (13 3/4 in)
Provenance: The Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Collection of African Art, previously F. Wuthrich, Basel
Purchased: Galerie Koller, 2005