Nature spirits, the ngesh , were believed to be embodied in Kuba masks during the dances. The footprints of the dancers were then erased so as not to "hurt" the women venturing into the dance area. The mask on the other side appeared during initiation ceremonies, sometimes at the funerals of notables.
This warrior mask, not belonging to the royal masks, named Ishyeen imaalu and also Pwoom itok , belonged to the babende society. It has exorbitant conical pupils set off by eyebrows extended with horns that refer to warrior headdresses. The pigments of the decorative motifs remain very weakly visible. Misses and cracks of desiccation. Height on base: 44 cm.
The Kuba kingdom was founded in the 16th century by the main Bushoong tribe which is still ruled by a king today, and whose capital was Nshyeeng or Mushenge.
More than twenty types of tribal masks are used among the Kuba or "people of lightning," with meanings and functions that vary from group to group. Ritual ceremonies were an opportunity to display decorative arts and masks to honor the spirit of the deceased or to honor the king.
Three types of Kuba masks have been associated with dances held in the royal compound: the first, called Moshambwooy , represents Woot , the founder of the Bushoong subtribe, the culture hero. The second, known as Nady Amwaash (Ngaady Un Mwash), embodies Woot's wife/sister, a character that would have been introduced to give more importance to the role of women. The third mask is called Bwoom .
Source: "Kuba" 5Continents.
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