Tribal art > African Statues > Kuba mask
Crest Mask Kuba Ishyeen imaalu (N° 14133)
The people of the lightning" and the African art
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The spirits of nature, the ngesh , were supposed to be incarnated in the Kuba masks during the dances. The dancers' footprints were then erased so as not to injure the women venturing into the dance zone. This round-bump sculpture is made up of an anthropomorphic figure on a janiform mask. The latter reproduces the features of the warrior mask Ishyeen imaalu (Pwoom itok) of the babende society whose exorbitant conical pupils would allude to the chameleon. Symbolic zoomorphic motifs are drawn on the bust of the statue, and graphics painted on the cheeks.
Abrased polychrome pigments. Desication cracks and erosions.
The Kuba Kingdom was founded in the 16th century by the Bushoong who are still ruled by a king today. More than twenty types of tribal masks are used in the Kuba or " lightning people", with meanings and functions that vary from group to group. The ritual ceremonies were an opportunity to display the decorative arts and masks, in order to honor the spirit of the deceased or to honor the king. Three types of Kuba masks have been associated with dances that take place in the royal enclosure: the first, called Moshambwooy , represents Woot , the founder of the Sub-tribe of Bushoong, the hero of culture. The second, known Nady Amwaash (Ngaady Un Mwash), plays Woot's wife/sister, a character who was reportedly introduced to give more importance to the role of women. The third mask is called Bwoom. Source: "Kuba" 5Continents.
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