Wood, fine patina, original pigment, classical striated face mask with overall white pigment and black highlights.
This type of mask, known as kifwebe, was used by the secret society of the same name. The members of the Kifwebe society are regarded as possessing the powers of sorcery, which they use in the service of the political leaders to maintain their position of control. The mask's shape and design symbolizes the supernatural, mystical and ancestral forces from which the Kifwebe members obtain their powers.
Kifwebe masks are used to mark important periods of social transition and transformation, appearing at the death of a chief or any other eminent person, or when a person assumes an important political title. Worn on the night of the new moon, they are also performed in honour of ancestors. They also are perceived as having healing abilities. These masks can be female or male type. The present mask embodies the rarer female type kifwebe (known as kikashi), which, in contrast to the male type lacks the sagital crest. Also characteristic of female masks is the fine pattern on the face into which white paint has been rubbed. The use of white symbolizes positive concepts such as purity and peace, the moon and light. Female masks essentially reflect positive forces and appear principally during lunar ceremonies and at the investure or death of a ruler.
H: 40,5 cm (16 inch).
Literature: Bourgeois, Arthur and Rodolitz, S. (2003) Remnants of Ritual: Selections from The Gelbard Collection of African Art. Bacquart, Jean-Baptiste (2010) The Tribal Arts of Africa.
Hahner, Iris e Kecskési (2007) African Masks The Barbier-Mueller Collection.
For additional information please contact S.A. Gallery.
Regional & Ethnic Antiques