luba kifwebe mask
country: democratic republic of congo
material: wood, pigment
size: 21" (53.3 cm)
provenance: private USA estate collection
note: stand not included
The unusual aesthetic of this Songye-Luba mask is an inventive departure from the classic striated kifwebe type. The rounded face, of strong Luba characteristics with its elegantly rounded forehead, appears to flow or melt into a bib-shaped collar which would extend down over the clavicle of the wearer. The combination of Luba and Songye styles is typical for the border region between both people and has historic roots. Kerchache (1993: 576) notes: "The history of the [Songye] is closely linked to the Luba's, to whom they are related through common ancestors. According to tradition, Kongolo, the founder of the first Luba empire in the sixteenth century, was a [Songye]."