Eastern Songye, Democratic Republic of Congo 24" H x 11.5" W x 10" D
The Kifwebe masks are divided into two main categories––male and female. This exquisite example is a male mask, as indicated by the large crest atop the head that extends down into the nose. The Bifwebe (singular is 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 various ceremonies.
Traces of black and white paint can be seen on this mask. The use of white symbolizes positive concepts such as purity and peace. The dark coal color is associated with courage and fortitude.
Sculptural and dramatic, this mask makes a dramatic statement as a piece of art.