Kifwebe Passport Mask (Male)


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. A male Kifwebe mask can be identified by its large comb or crest. The size and height of the crest indicates seniority or higher rank and the relative spiritual power of the dancer. Junior masks have smaller crests as an indication of their lesser degree of social power. The protruding features of the male masks are made to portray aggression. The male mask dance is less benevolent and more severe and unpredictable than the female. This mask is also a regulator of supernatural powers of a more masculine form, capable of inflicting punishment and enforcing societal rules.

Kifwebe male masks are worn in various ceremonies and tasks such as initiations, funerals, harvest, enforce order and social control, healing and on the occasion of a public festival or festive occasion or to intimidate an enemy in case of war. This is a Passport mask. The Passport masks are small masks that were made to be carried around, sewn onto a piece of cloth and kept in a leather pouch and possibly worn on the back. They are miniature copies of a family masks. These masks also act as witnesses during initiation ceremonies and protect the owner when he is away from home.


Height : 9.5″ (24.1cm)