N4S6M303S.jpg (49658 bytes)n4s6m303.jpg (38548 bytes)Songye (Basonge, Bayembe, Songe, Wasonga), Democratic Republic of the Congo

Kifwebe female mask. The most famous masks created by the Songye are worn in connection with the kifwebe secret society. They are called kifwebe, which means ‘mask’ in the Songye language. It can be either masculine, if carved with a central crest, or feminine if displaying a rather plain coiffure. The kifwebe society used their masks to ward off disaster or any threat. The mask had also the capacity to heal by means of the supernatural force it was supposed to incorporate. The masks, supplemented by a woven costume and a long beard of raffia bast, dance at various ceremonies. Mask, colors, and costume all have symbolic meaning. The dancer who wears the male mask will display aggressive and uncontrolled behavior with the aim of encouraging social conformity, whereas the dancer who wears the female mask display more gentle and controlled movements and is assumed to be associated with reproduction ceremonies.

Material:  wood

Size:   H. 13”, W. 6”, D. 6”