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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Kuba Masks : Kuba Wooden Helmet Mask with Raffia Fibers
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Kuba Wooden Helmet Mask with Raffia Fibers - PF.4740
Origin: Southeastern Congo
Circa: 19 th Century AD to 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 14.5" (36.8cm) high x 9.25" (23.5cm) wide
Collection: African
Medium: Wood, Raffia


Additional Information: Dimensions Do Not Include the Raffia Fibers
$9,000.00
Location: United States
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Description
Generally, there are one or two sculptors living and working in each Kuba village. They are held in high esteem, and only the most talented perform this activity. A mask such as this very handsome example, though serving a specific purpose, is in fact a sculpture and regarded as a work of art. By means of masks, the spirit world is given a medium in which to “pass through” and become an active part of the tangible world. In this sense the wearer and mask become a “mouthpiece” for ancestral or other spirits, communicating most dramatically during ritual dance ceremonies.

Helmet masks have the effect of engulfing the wearer within its structural frame, and therefore heightening its power. This mask is beautifully detailed; its volume and form are almost monumental in proportion. The realistic facial elements are quite elegant, especially in the curving eyebrows that come to a sharp point on the bridge of the nose; and the slanted eyes that seem as if they are in a trance. The raffia fiber border around the base adds texture, contrasting nicely with the smooth wooden surface. The headdress of leather and cowrie shells gives off a regal aura and may represent a chief or even king. Kuba kings were considered to have supernatural powers, and statues of them were made in order to watch over woman giving birth. The spirit of this mask does indeed transcend the normal world, as if a potent and benevolent spirit still dwells within.
- (PF.4740)

 

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