Kifwebe Mask (Female)


Zaire (Democratic Republic of the Congo)

The Kifwebe masks represent supernatural beings and are believed to embody supernatural forces. These masks are made in the bush away from outsider’s eyes. Initiates to the Kifwebe society perform rites that attract ancestral spirits, who take possession of the masks. These masks preserve the power of the ancestors for their descendents. Stripes are associated with a variety of sacred animals: antelopes, zebra and okapi. Other feature of these masks also represents other animals, crocodile – chin and eyes, crest – rooster. The use of white on the mask symbolizes positive concepts such as purity and peace, the moon and light. This is a female mask; these masks are not aggressive, either in their appearance or in their behavior. The dancer who wears the female mask display more gentle, calm and controlled movements; their task is to invoke benevolent spirits that will influence the future generation. Female masks have no crest or perhaps a slightly raised flat one. They display beauty and are said to enhance fertility of humans, animals, and the earth; male masks would bring power and wealth. Each society group had only one female mask, which was the first to be carved.

Female masks are associated with the moon and are worn for moon rituals as well as during funerals and initiation rites. They are also used to dispense fertility and wealth. When masks are worn, they are part of a complete costume consisting of a hood attached to the mask, shirt and pants made from woven bark. The soles of his shoes will be elephant skin and a striped fur belt completes the costume. The top of the mask will have attached to the hood a plummet and a fiber beard circle the masks face.

Wood , Kaolin

Height : 16″ (40.6cm)