Mask Title: Songye Kifebwe
Date:19th–mid-20th century
Geography: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Culture: Songye People

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Check out of this mask from the Kefweebi Tribe of West Africa. As with all of our high end products this one will blow your mind in person!

Certain masking traditions of the Congo River basin personify local control of mystical power. Striated face masks known as kifwebe probably originated in North Shaba, an area inhabited by both Songye and Luba groups. Significant departures in the role and formal interpretation of this art form subsequently developed in each culture. During the 16th century, the Songye migrated from the Shaba area, which is now the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), and settled on the left bank of the Lualaba River, on a savannah and forest-covered plateau. Divided into numerous sub-groups, the 150,000 Songye people are governed by a central chief, the Yakitenge, whose role demands that he obey special restrictive laws such as not showing grief, not drinking in public and not shaking hands with men. In addition, local rulers, the Sultani Ya Muti, distribute plots of land to their villagers and an influential secret society, Bwadi Bwa Kifwebe, counterbalances their power. Unlike their neighbors, the Luba, the Songye tribe is a patriarchal society in which agriculture is central to the economy.
The Songye created impressive sculptures and masks used within their secret societies. They are characterized by powerful features, with the figures covered in paraphernalia. Regional variations can be observed owing to the large area occupied by the Songye tribe.
The most famous masks created by the Songye are worn in connection with the Bwadi Bwa Kifwebe secret society. They are called Kifwebe, which means ‘mask’ in the Songye language.”