Songye tribe, Democratic Republic of Congo, Early 20th century 23"H X 12.5" W X 16"D
Kifwebe masks are divided into two main categories––male and female. This is a supreme example of a male mask, indicated by the large crest atop the head. The Bifwebe (plural of Kifwebe) masks are worn by members of a society of the same name that to this day enjoys extreme respect among the eastern Songye. The masks, worn with elaborate woven costumes and long raffia beards, are danced in at important ceremonies. They are also worn to intimidate enemies in the case of war! Elements of a mask are associated with various animals, such as the bird suggested by the beak of this mask. The mask by extension embodies the virtues of that particular animal. On the most accessible level, this mask offers a wonderful, dynamic shape as an item to display and enjoy.