Songye Kifwebe (male)
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- Country of origin: DR of the Congo
- Size: 44 cm H x 21 cm W
- Materials: wood, kaolin, black pigment
- Authentic african art
Authentic, tribally used Songye mask, with some 'wear & tear'.
In the Songye language, a mask is a 'kifwebe': this term has been given to masks representing spirits and characterized by striations. Depending on the region, it may be dark with white strips, or the reverse. The kifwebe masks embodied supernatural forces. The kifwebe society used them to ward off disaster or any threat. The masks, supplemented by a woven costume and a long beard of raffia bast, dance at various ceremonies. They are worn by men who act as police at the behest of a ruler, or to intimidate the enemy.
It can be either masculine, if carved with a central crest, or feminine if displaying a plain coiffure. The size of the crest determines the magic power of the mask. Mask, colors, and costume all have symbolic meaning. The dancer who wears the male mask will display aggressive and uncontrolled behavior with the aim of encouraging social conformity, whereas the dancer who wears the female mask display more gentle and controlled movements and is assumed to be associated with reproduction ceremonies.
The use of white on the mask symbolizes positive concepts such as purity and peace, the moon and light. Red is associated with blood and fire, courage and fortitude, but also with danger and evil.
Brought back by a Belgian colonial who worked for the 'Union Minière' in Kasaï region.
Ex Collection Firmin Du Bois
©2019 Bert's Gallery of Tribal Art