Mbuya Mask

Culture: Pende

Country: Zaire

Wood, Raffia, Pigment


Preformed by male youths in Mukanda initiation association ceremonies.
Masqueraders make social commentary on aspects of community life
through their performance.


In Zaire (Congo), among the Chokwe, Kuba, Pende, Suku and Yaka people, masks denote significant social functions. Among the Chokwe, chiefs may wear sacred masks at ceremonies, when they perform sacrifices to ancestors, seeking blessings for the welfare of their community. Among the Kuba, the function of some masks is more focused on rights of passage, particularly for a boy's initiation. Kuba masks also reflect spirits that act as intermediaries between the Supreme Being and mortals. The elephant mask, is commonly used among the Kuba, and is worn by a distinguished person during funerary rites of a titled person. The white cowrie shells embellishing this mask are symbolic; white is a color associated with death and mourning. For the Yaka, masks perform in puberty rituals for male youths, as well as assuring and protecting the future fertility of the initiated.


Yaka Slit Drum

Gallery Main Page

Previous Page