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Tribal art > African mask > Songye mask

Kikashi Songye mask (N° 20566)

This African Songye mask, the kikashi, of impressive size, embodies a positive force. The half-closed palpebral slits are stretched, the triangular nose has a flat bridge and the mouth forms a protrusion.
The absence of a nasofrontal ridge indicates that this is a female mask. Parallel striations coated with kaolin are engraved on the matte surface. Abrasions and cracks are to be noted.

Three variants of this mask Kifwebe ( pl. Bifwebe) or "chasing death"(Roberts),from the society of the same name, can be distinguished: the masculine (kilume) generally with a high crest, the feminine (kikashi) with a very low crest or even absent, and finally the largest embodying power (kia ndoshi). This type of mask, still used today, seems to come from the border area between the Northern Luba and the Songye of the Southeast. They are worn by a dancer Kifwebe in a state of "bwadi" trances , accessorized with a long woven costume and a long natural fiber ornament attached to the mask's contours, during major ceremonies. The Songye came from the Shaba region of the DRC and settled along the Lualaba River in the middle of the savannah and forests. They are governed by the yakitengé and by local chiefs. The Bwami secret society, however, counterbalances their power. Their male masks, with occult powers, were displayed during punitive and disciplinary expeditions.  

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Originex-collection Mercier
EthnySongye
Countryrdc ex zaire
Material(s)wood
Height48
Width24
Weight1.50 Kg
Estimated datingmid-xx°
Socle inclusOptional

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