A2L9M085.jpg (34695 bytes)A2L9M085S.jpg (39099 bytes)Lwalwa (Balualua, Balwalwa, Lwalu), Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola

Ceremonial bangongo mask. Lwalwa art, known mostly by its masks, is the most original in a group of tribes located in the region where the Kasai River marks the border between Zaire and Angola. Sculpting is recognized as a prestigious profession and is usually passed on from father to son. Sculptors are a privileged caste of the community—a successful sculptor can accumulate wealth, become a chief and organize dances—and the Lwalwa are renowned dancers. Women and children are not allowed to view ceremonies in which the masks are used. The masks had an important function in the bangongo dance of the hunting ritual. When hunters returned empty-handed, the ancestors would be appeased by organizing a dance. The masks were also used in a secret ritual of the bangongo society, in charge of initiation and circumcision of young men. The choreography of masked dances was highly complex and had to appease the spirits of the ancestors and compel them to intervene. Masks still play a role today in secular festivities.

Material:  wood

Size: H. 16”, W. 8 ”, D. 6”