For sale here is a STRIKING vintage 1950s 60s handmade carved and painted wood African Songye Kifwebe striated and crested male mask from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. An impressive and quite unique mask! Here is some information that I gathered online about the Kifwebe mask and the Songye peoples:
The Songye people, sometimes written Songe, are a Bantu ethnic group from the central Democratic Republic of the Congo. They inhabit a vast territory between the Sankuru and Lubilash rivers in the west and the Lualaba River in the east. Many Songye villages can be found in present-day East Kasai province, parts of Katanga and Kivu Province.Bwadi bra Kifwebe is a secret society of masked men. In the community, these men were known for their use of magic (Buki or Buchi) and sorcery (Masende). Buki and Masende magic differ from witchcraft; these types of magic are inherited or obtained either by will or unconsciously. Witchcraft, in contrast, can be obtained through initiation and at the appropriate use of magical ingredients. In order to become a member of the Bwadi bra Kifwebe, all applicants must undergo an initiation process. During this process, initiates must learn and identify a secret esoteric language. They must undergo a radical and violent experience in order to become less fearful of the unknown and learn their roles within the subject to Bwadi bra Kifwebe. Some of the Bwadi bra Kifwebe help regulate and maintain political order and balance between the chief and his communities. The Bwadi bra Kifwebe maintain balance within the community by conducting masquerades, rituals and rites such as initiation rituals, circumcisions and funerals.
Certain masking traditions of the Congo River basin personify local control of mystical power. Striated face masks known as kifwebe probably originated in North Shaba, an area inhabited by both Songye and Luba groups. Significant departures in the role and formal interpretation of this art form subsequently developed in each culture. Among the small Songye chiefdoms along the Lomami River, maskers were emissaries of the ruling elite, who relied on the ideology of witchcraft and sorcery to sustain their rule. These kifwebe members commanded a body of esoteric secret knowledge visually encoded mnemonically in the mask's features. Hierarchical distinctions between a single female mask and an unlimited number of male masks are reflected in color and in sculptural features.
This incredible mask measures 19" tall by 7.75" wide by 7" deep. There are some markings at back as shown in the photos which I believe are by the previous owner but I am not sure. I purchased this mask and others at a local Tucson estate of a collector of African arts and crafts. The collector traveled in Africa extensively for work during the 1950s and 60s, so all of his pieces were collected during that era. I will be adding more items from the estate in the coming weeks. My last photo is from an online source showing a similar mask as it would have been worn by the artisans of the Songye people. There is significant wear and loss of paint in parts, but overall the mask is intact and quite stunning visually! Please view the photos, read the description, and ask all questions prior to purchase. I am open to reasonable offers from serious buyers.
STRIKING Vintage 1950s 60s African DR Congo Songye Kifwebe Striated Wood Male MASK - measures 19" tall by 7.75" wide by 7" deep!
$1,495 50% Off
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