Mwaash aMbooy Mask
Among the Kuba, masks are thought to be reflections of nature-spirits (mingesh) that act as intermediaries between the Supreme Being (Nyeem) and the world of mortals. There are more than twenty different types of masks that function within the men's initiation society. Moshambwooy is one of the three most important and represents Woot, the founding hero from whom the Kuba believe themselves to be descended.
Moshambwooy masks are worn by the nyimi, or king, of the Kuba or by chiefs in villages. The nyimi's mask is usually made of leopard skin, while those of chiefs are made of antelope skin. The face of this mask is probably antelope skin painted with a design to look like leopard's fur. The nose and ears are carved of wood, and the white beard of fur from the chest of a sheep represents the beard of an old man.
- Culture: Bushoong Kuba
- Medium: Bark cloth, leather, pigment, shell, hair, beads, fabric
- Place Made: West Kasai Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Dates: late 19th or early 20th century
- Dimensions: 19 5/16 x 16 1/8 x 14 3/16 in. (49 x 41 x 36 cm) (show scale)
- Collections:Arts of Africa
- Museum Location: This item is not on view
- Accession Number: 22.1582
- Credit Line: Museum Expedition 1922, Robert B. Woodward Memorial Fund
- Rights Statement: Creative Commons-BY
- Caption: Bushoong Kuba. Mwaash aMbooy Mask, late 19th or early 20th century. Bark cloth, leather, pigment, shell, hair, beads, fabric, 19 5/16 x 16 1/8 x 14 3/16 in. (49 x 41 x 36 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Expedition 1922, Robert B. Woodward Memorial Fund, 22.1582. Creative Commons-BY
- Catalogue Description: Mask of thin parchment, painted. Elaborately trimmed with shell and hair decoration. Shell eyes. The surface is highly decorative, composed of intricately painted geometric designs and geometrically arranged cowrie shells and beads. One feature, a long strip of beaded decoration extending from the bridge of the nose to the chin is present. Emphasis placed on 2 dimensional surface quality and elaborate polychromy. Condition: Headdress worn and torn.
- Record Completeness: Best (91%)