Congo style mask

aaaMystrySolvd-920aQ:   I have a tribal helmet mask that my mom had and she has passed away. I only know she got it from an estate sale of a 90 yr old veteran that traveled the world. Sorry I can’t supply you with any more info, maybe you can tell me about it.  Vicky, 920

A:  This appears to be a traditional design from one of the cultures in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I’m not experienced enough to name the particular group, or the name of the ceremony it is used for. And there is always the chance that it combines characteristics of two or more ethnic groups. Another interesting question is whether it is old and used, or carefully aged to fool tourists into paying more. Let’s hope we get some comments from people who know more about African masks than I do!aaaMystrySolvd-920b


  • Aaron Fellmeth

    I’m not an Africa expert, but I’m going to say a Yaka helmet from the DRC, possibly a Kakungu mask, which represents a spiritually powerful elder with powers to frighten members of the tribe into compliance with tribal norms.

  • Marc DUBOIS

    This item is indeed strong influenced by the Yaka people (the curved nose is typical) but, as far as I know, the Yaka do not make helmets. Their neighbors (the SUKU people) from the same area Kwango-Kasai-RDC make well helmets but those do not have the so typical curved nose and are quite different in shape.
    So…I doubt very much…

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