Explore the abundant cultural legacy of African art through this mask hailing from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Masks have been a part of human societies for over 10,000 years, with African traditions focusing on protection, performance, rituals, and commemoration.
Mask carvers from the continent have created various masks using materials like wood, skins, cloth, beads, fiber, and metal, with the choice of materials often bearing regional significance. One such mask, collected by Hungarian anthropologist Emil Torday in the early 1900s, is a wooden one from the Democratic Republic of Congo, tied to the Songye people.
The mask, adorned with a fiber fringe and three fur horns, is believed to deter unruly behavior and is linked to the Bwami society, which held judicial authority and played a role in significant events like chief installation and initiation ceremonies. The mask’s intricate design draws inspiration from various wild animals, combining their distinct features into one unified form.
Source: British Museum.