Arts of Africa
On View: African Storage Annex, East Gallery, 1st Floor
Miniature wooden masks constitute some of the most important insignia of the second-highest grade of Bwami. Generally these miniature masks, known as lukwakongo, have a heart-shaped face framed by a line formed by the nose, the eyebrows, and the planes of the cheeks. The face is whitened with clay, while the forehead and edges characteristically have a glossy brown patina. The holes running around the lower edge of this mask would originally have held a beard made of liana fibers. Lukwakongo are never worn on the face, but are instead tied to the arm or displayed on a fence at Bwami meetings.
Wood, kaolin clay
19th or 20th century
10 1/2 x 6 x 2 1/4 in. (26.7 x 15.2 x 5.7 cm) (show scale)
Gift of Nicholas A. de Kun
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Lega. Mask (Lukwakongo), 19th or 20th century. Wood, kaolin clay, 10 1/2 x 6 x 2 1/4 in. (26.7 x 15.2 x 5.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Nicholas A. de Kun, 71.173. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 71.173.jpg)
overall, 71.173.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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Oval shaped wooden face mask with concave, heart shaped face area. Facial area painted white; some of the paint has worn off. Seven drill holes appear on bottom and one on each side of mask. Coffee bean shaped bulging eyes with slits in center. Mouth aperture is very small with two diagonal notches on either side. Long narrow nose extends down from arching browline. CONDITION: Cracks and pitting on forehead and chin.
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