Salampasu Mukinka mask


Ferocity in Salampasu art

A hauntingly expressive mask carved from wood, and with sheets of copper riveted to the surface, of the Salampasu people. The mask has a large forehead and to the top are attached numerous balls of coiled bark strips to represent the hair. The face has a deep and horizontal brow, below which are long, narrow eyes. The nose is almost triangular in form and the mouth is depicted as square shaped, open and revealing a row of sharp teeth. The chin is pointed and to the sides of the mask are holes for the attachment of a raffia beard. 

The Salampasu have a reputation for being ferocious warriors, and within their society the role of warrior and hunter is considered to be privileged occupations. These masks are used in initiation ceremonies and come in three types that are distinguished by the material they are made from. Those made from fiber represent hunters, those of wood represent warriors, and those with copper sheets to the surface represent chiefs. These masks are owned by accomplished warriors and worn, not only during initiation ceremonies, but also at funerals. 

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Data sheet

Presumed dating
1st half XXth century
+/- 36 cm
Ethnic group
Wood, accessories
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Tribal art collection Belgium

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