Kuba Mask from Zaire - Bwoom

  • Product Code: K3-32
  • Dimensions: 12" x 26" x 10"
  • Availability: In Stock
  • USD $


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Bwoom - From the Kuba people in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Kuba are a confederation of nineteen ethnic groups dominated by the Bushong, and they can trace the history of their kingdom back through the reigns of more than 100 kings. The Kuba make over twenty masks which are considered the embodiments of spirits. The three most significant (Mwaash, Amboy, & Bwoom) belong to the royal family and illustrate their history. The events in which the masks are used, initiation ceremonies or celebrations, are under royal patronage. The Kuba believe in a supreme being called Nyeem, who created the world. Woot is the legendary founder of the Bushong people, the Kuba equivalent of Adam, and was their first king. This mask, Bwoom, represents Woot's brother. Depending on the occasion and context, Bwoom can represent different characters. During the initiation of the young boys, he is identified as the nature spirit Ngeesh. Within celebrations in the royal court, Bwoom appears as the opponent of his brother Woot. The battle for power is also a struggle for the favors of Mweel, the wife and sister of Woot. The rebelious character of the Bwoom mask is reflected in the wearer's proud and aggressive dancing style. In his role as an insurgent challenging the throne, Bwoom is associated with the non-aristocratic, common man. The face of the mask is made of wood, and it is supplemented with glass beads, cowry shells, brass, raffia, and hair. It covers the entire head of the wearer, and it is worn at an angle on the head, with the wearer looking through the nostrils. It is thought that this mask type originated with the Cwa pygmies, and was introduced by King Miko mi-Mbul in the seventeenth century. In this view, the bulbous forehead is thus a representation of a pygmy. According to another view, a prince with hydrocephalus could have served as the model. (Height includes stand) Ref.: Finley Ref.: Hahner-Herzog, Kecskesi, & Vajda Ref.: Stepan/ Hahner

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