congo_bar.gif (7246 bytes)

Yesneidy Hernandez
Emilia Hidalgo
Yain Macias


This mask is very simple to describe. It is a woodcarving and recognized as a Kifwebe mask from Kiwamba and is commonly found within Luba (Shaba province of Congo). It is round, with an ashy gray color that makes it appear old and rusty. Its cheeks are located an inch under the cheekbone. The middle section, which is darker than any other object in the mask, is wide enough for the nose and lips to fit in perfectly. The middle section that lies in the center of the mask (including the nose and lips) equally divides both of its sides. Its whole appearance is covered with lines, except its eyelids, which leaves the eyeball as a mystery. Its eyelids are also completely closed, which enables anyone to describe the eyeball. Its lips are square-shaped and thin. A thick bold horizontal line in the middle divides the upper and lower lips. That same middle section goes to the bottom of the mask, adding an extra piece of wood that sticks out below that mask with skinny vertical lines carved in it.  It appears to be its chin sticking out.

The mask is made of wood. It is elegantly carved with specific shapes, lines, and texture. The shapes consist of circles, which are found in its eyes , cheeks and the surface of the mask. The lines consist of all the skinny lines, the fill-in for the rest of the space in the mask that supposedly does not contain anything, helping to change the mask's texture. The shapes also consist of triangular shapes that include its lips. It is not a flat-surfaced mask, but is rather rounded.

The mask represents spiritual ideas, thoughts, and beliefs. The face appears to be in deep thought. With its eyes tightly closed, it is unable to see or to get distracted, which gives us a better idea of what is representing or trying to do. It is a mask with a heavy presence of faith tradition in their culture. This mask represents a lot and would be worth much among those people. They are considered to possess special supernatural powers. That is why they are catalogued as fetishes or power objects.

The artwork has a lot of value based on its beauty. It is perfectly well made due to the specific touch of the carving. Its beauty is found within the meaning and the definition of what the mask is worth. The artwork passes one of the judgement categories of Feldman's Critical Method: it serves the church (in this case the religious beliefs of the tribe).  The mask is worn by the Bwadi Bwa Kifwebe. The mask speaks the Songye language and it is worshiped by many of the region's people.



luba_kifwebe.gif (32940 bytes)


WB01343_.gif (599 bytes)Forward to European Images