B7K6M488.jpg (41745 bytes)Kuba (Bakuba, Bushongo), Democratic Republic of the Congo

Bwoom helmet mask. The masks of the Kuba are among the most imaginative and colorful in all Africa. One of the three royal masks, the Bwoom is one of the oldest mask types used by the Kuba. It is said to have been introduced in the seventeenth century. The masqueraders appear on numerous ceremonial occasions, embodying different characters depending on the context. At boys’ initiations, Bwoom represents the nature spirit Ngeesh. As part of the royal mask trio, he personifies an opposition, recalcitrant character who struggles with his brother Woot for power and for possession of his wife and sister, Ngaady a Mwaash. In his role as an insurgent who challenges the throne and its system, Bwoom is moreover associated with non-aristocratic, common man. The rebellious aspect of the Bwoom masquerader is expressed in a proud and aggressive style of dancing. According to one of the various legends surrounding the origin of the Bwoom, the bulging forehead and form of the mask imitate the heads of pigmies.

Material:  wood

Size: 26”x9”x15”

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