Luba helmet mask


Major objects in African art

Old wooden helmet mask and very similar to that number EO.0.0.23470 collected by O. Michaux in 1896 and dated between 1825 and 1850, presented to the Royal Museum for Central Africa, Brussels. See attached photo.

"The presence of zoomorphic elements (buffalo horns) has made it possible to put forward certain hypotheses as to its use. According to some, this mask refers by its iconography to mythical characters linked to the buffalo and comes under the important brotherhood of the bambudye ( the guardians of memory).

For others, the horns framing the face could find an echo in certain rites of the brotherhoods of hunters. For others still, this mask, by its anthropo-zoomorphic aspect, would maintain links with an iconography well established in certain cultures (Western Luntu and Luba in particular) having produced helmet masks with curved horns attached to brotherhoods very close to the political power."

Cf. Art sans pareil, Africa Museum

This african helmet mask benefits from a good state of conservation despite the refinement of its elements, in particular the curved horns and the helmet itself carved in a thin wood giving the whole an undeniable aestheticism. The goatee is decorated with patterns. The elements of the face as well as the ears testify to the confidence in the hands of the sculptor.

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Data sheet

Presumed dating
Circa 1950
42 x 32 cm
Ethnic group
Luba / Baluba / Louba
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Tribal art collection Belgium

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