Kuba (Bakuba, Bushongo), Democratic Republic of the Congo
Kabongo helmet mask, Kete subgroup. Today, the Kuba people number 250,000 and are subdivided into a number of subgroups the Bushoong, the Ngeende, the Kete, the Lele, the Binji, the Dengese, the Mbuun and the Wongo. Each clan pays tribute to the Nyim, the king of the Bushoong ruling clan, but their internal affairs are dealt with autonomously. The Kuba oral history tells of the creation of the world by Bumba, who decreed that the Bushoong would always be the ruling class. This creator god is not formally worshiped. At one time the Kuba had a religion based on ancestor worship, but this seems to have died out, although divination is still practiced in order to discover causes of evil. The 25,000 Kete people farm along the southern border of the Kuba kingdom and live in independent villages led by family chiefs. They carve figures associated with initiations and masks with large, conical eyes. This type of mask is called kabongo. They are used in ceremonies terminating the initiation ordeal. Specific traits of this mask include a pointed chin and conic-shaped eyes.
Size: H. 20, W. 11, D. 7