Africa

Authentic Bembe mask from DRC

The previous blog features a fake that could be mistaken for a real Bembe masks. Take a good look. You can greatly enlarge both scans to study the detail. Collecting African masks can be a challenge!

This authentic mask came from the Cleveland Museum of Art and would cost many thousands of dollars. The previous mask cost ten dollars. Perhaps a good compromise would be a well made reproduction.

The Bembe originate from the northwest forests of Democratic Republic of the Congo. They are representative of numerous ethnic traditions including Lega, pre-Lega, Boyo-Kunda, and Bemba. They are a tough and proud people who absorbed other populations and their systems of thought in the process of carving out their current homeland in a time of widespread conflict and under economic pressure from European invaders and slave traders during the 19th century. Their desire for more land continues to result in conflict in the area today.

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