Skip Navigation

Mask (Lukwakongo)

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.
MEDIUM Wood, kaolin clay
DATES 19th or 20th century
DIMENSIONS 10 1/2 x 6 x 2 1/4 in. (26.7 x 15.2 x 5.7 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in African Storage Annex, East Gallery, 1st Floor
CREDIT LINE Gift of Nicholas A. de Kun
You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this three-dimensional work in accordance with a Creative Commons license. Fair use, as understood under the United States Copyright Act, may also apply.

Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please contact (charges apply).

For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress, Cornell University, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums, and Copyright Watch.

For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright.

If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact
CAPTION 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
IMAGE overall, 71.173.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION 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.
Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome any additional information you might have.