Songye Kifwebe Kilume mask

Songye tribal art : Kifwebe mask

A wooden Kifwebe mask of the Songye people, displaying a remarkable level of craftsmanship and abstract forms. The face of the mask is small in comparison to the exaggerated forms of the individual components of the face, such as the projecting, heavy lidded eyes, wedge shaped nose that extends to a crest on the top of the head and the square, projecting mouth with X-shaped lips. 

The kifwebe masks are characterized by a number of distinguishing features, such as the highly abstract and exaggerated facial features, along with the colourful striations that decorate the surface. Field studies have recognised over thirty different types of kifwebe mask, with some being associated with animals, and others with the ancestors. the shape and size of the masks differentiates them and they generally fall into male and female, with those having a distinctive crest being male. The masks representing males are also generally aggressive in form. They are used at the death and investiture of a chief, as well as at initiation ceremonies. 

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Data sheet

Presumed dating
Mid XXth century
50 cm
Ethnic group
Songye / Basongye
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Tribal art collection Belgium

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