Africa

Pende deformity mask

Q: Here you will find the second mask ‘black and white’. With my best regards. Eduard, 1729

A: It would have been nice if he would have furnished more info such as size, who, when and how much. I’m posting it, along with two different Pende deformity masks, because they are so interesting. There are also a few other places in the world where deformity masks are used in masquerade.

Here is some information from the Canadian Museum of History. The mask comes from the Central Pende region in the Bandundu province, in the southern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It falls into the category of mbuya masks, which are used to represent different characters.

This one represents a cursed man, someone who has been struck by sickness or has had deformities cast upon him by sorcerers. His face shows signs of nerve paralysis.

A curse can strike — like lightning — without warning. Onlookers see one of their own kind who has been rendered powerless, unable to shake off the curse that has struck him. In the past, mbuya masks were used to mark the end of circumcision rituals but today they play a more festive role.

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