Africa

Kuba masks from Central Africa

Q: Thanks so much for providing this service! It’s awesome for folks new to this (like me). I picked this helmet mask up in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. I was told that it was a Congolese Kuba funeral mask. It’s size is Height: 17 inches, Width: 12 Inches and Depth: 13 inches. It has no eye holes. I paid USD 365 purely because I really liked it. Grateful for your thoughts. Either way, I love it and also picked up another mask there that i think is also Congolese. Scott, 1614

A: “The term Kuba refers to a group of closely related peoples with rich art traditions. They have over twenty different mask types. Kuba masks are often decorated with geometric patterns, cowrie shells and beads. They are considered to embody a spirit and are used during initiations, funerals and to entertain. Their use represents the founding of royal lineage and other historical events.”

I encourage collectors to enjoy Kuba masks and to acquire them at the price level they can afford. Using the A,B,C,D value system, Scott’s mask would get a B (collectible), but it is on the low end of that category. He paid too much. The second mask would also be a B, but on the high end because it is very carefully made. Both of these reproductions are traditional in design. The second B would be an A if it was used in culture.

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