Africa

Unusual mask from the Congo

Bushoong- Kuba
Bushoong- Kuba

Q: I recently purchased this mask from a Cameroonian street vendor in NYC. He said it was from Congo. It is made of wood, fairly light and pithy (palmwood?) and is roughly 16″H. After some online research I found a Bushoong mask that was on exhibit in Durango, CO earlier this year: As you can see it is strikingly similar. So perhaps mine is of Bushoong origins or a reproduction there of. More importantly I’m curious of it’s spiritual connotations. Is it for divination, sorcery, initiation? Goodwill, evil?  Chris, 566A

A: I also looked through some books and searched the internet finding nothing quite like your mask.

Bushoong people, who are near the Lele, Biombo and Ngeende in central Democratic Republic of the Congo, are a good guess. But I wouldn’t consider a mixed mask show organized by a small art museum in Colorado as the last word on this. Maybe one of our collector friends will have a comment. Another possibility is african_arts@yahoogroups.com  There are many people in this discussion group who know more about African masks than I. To see the other Bushoong mask go to http://www.durangoherald.com/storyimage/DU/20130404/ARTS02/130409837/EP/1/3/EP-130409837.jpg

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