Kiwoyo / Mwawa mask Western Pende - SOLD OUT

Pende masks in African tribal art

Among the Pende, about twenty types of masks exist. They intervene for important functions, initiatory rites, and for functions which concern the entertainment. In both cases, it is difficult to differentiate the characters without the rest of the costume, because they can as well personify the various classic village figures - the inveterate drinker, the coquette, the old maid - than mysterious beings of the past.

The carved wooden masks collectively called mbuya are worn with cloth costumes sometimes accompanied by a cape or a skirt in raffia or leaves. This kiwoyo mask is an important mask that features references to the chiefs - the kiwoyo dancer holds a chief flipper; the mwawa represents pride. Both refer to the elephant and its power.

Frank Herreman reports that the kiwoyo is one of the masks that closes the dance performed at the edge of the village to ensure the sunrise. This show was given when the agricultural cycle went hand in hand with that of hunting.

Although originating from the west of the country Pende and therefore more figurative than the very stylized masks of the east, this African kiwoyo mask has a rather cubist look with its shape and colorful geometric patterns.

Tapestry nails are planted in the face.

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Data sheet

Presumed dating
1st half XXth century
54 x 18 cm
Expert's estimate
550 - 650 €
Ethnic group
Pende / Bapende
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Tribal art collection Belgium

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