B5K6M024.jpg (54866 bytes)Kuba (Bakuba, Bushongo), Democratic Republic of the Congo

Mashamboy (Woot) helmet mask. The Kuba, a confederation of nineteen ethnic groups dominated by the Bushong, have over twenty mask types considered embodiments of spirits. This mask is one of three most significant types belonging to the royal family. According to a source, this mask was invented around 1350 A. D. Mythical origins and royal power struggles are reenacted ritually with the triad of masks during important initiation and funeral ceremonies. A mask representing both the god Woot and a king Mashamboy falls in love with his sister Mgaady A Mwaash, who becomes his wife. His brother, Bwoom, contests Mashamboy’s right  both to the throne and to Mgaady. The superstructure of the mask represents the trunk of an elephant, which is a royal emblem. The masqueraders invoke the Bushong myth of creation and also historical events. It also served to enforce the law.

Material:  textile, beads, cowries, raffia, wood

Size:  H. 22 ”, W. 13”, D. 12”


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