Kifwebe (Congolese mask) similar to Baluba - circa 1940.
Of the several mask types used by the Luba, one of the better known is kifwebe, a mask elaborated with whitened parallel grooves on a dark ground. The kifwebe masks, used by the secret society of the same name, originated in this territory. The Luba attribute its origins to three spirits, which emerged from a ditch near a lake. The female spirit was attracted by humans and went to live among them. The two male spirits stayed in the bush, but visited the village where they dazzled the inhabitants with their dancing to the point where the men begged to be initiated. These distinctive masks vary a great deal but in general are characterized by lineal patterns all over the face. They were worn with a raffia costume. Danced in male/female couples and representing spirits, kifwebe connect this world and the spirit world. They 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 honor of ancestors.
26" tall. 13" wide.