Bembe circumcision mask

Q:  This mask is medium size, about 18″ or so. It is made from very heavy dense wood. There are a series of holes along the sides.  Robert, 1172

A:  The Bembe are part of the large Lega culture in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Masks that look much like this one are worn by boys during their circumcision rites which go on for many days and include an exclusion period. What you see in this photo is a fairly common carving made for retail in local markets or for sale on the internet. They are made rather quickly and are rougher than what you might see in a museum or book.  B-



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