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Bwoom Mask

Arts of Africa

Kuba mythology revolves around three figures, each represented by a masquerade character: Woot, the creator and founder of the ruling dynasty; Woot’s spouse; and Bwoom. Bwoom’s specific identity varies according to different versions of the myth. He may represent the king’s younger brother, a person of Twa descent, or a commoner. Embodying a subversive force within the royal court, the Bwoom masquerade is often performed in conflict with the masked figure representing Woot.
MEDIUM Wood, copper alloy, skin, fur, plant fiber, textile, glass beads, cowrie shell, seedpods, pigments
DATES late 19th or early 20th century
DIMENSIONS 13 3/4 x 8 1/4 x 12 in. (35 x 21 x 30.5 cm) Height with beard: 22 7/16 in. (57 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
CREDIT LINE Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John McDonald
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Wooden mask of a bearded human face with cowrie shells and glass beads decorating the surface. Bands of dark blue beads an brow and nostrils. Wide band of white beads and cheeks and bridge of nose. Mixed turquoise and white beads down nose, around mouth and in geometric and chevron paterns on beard and around back of head. Black fur covered leather covers fabric at top of head and chevron pattern of white strips of leather. Undecorated strip of cloth around neckline of mask at back. Beard of white bead rings and enclosed brown seed pods. Cowrie shells and beads in hair of beard. Forehead is round and projecting. There are two rectangular appendages to the chin. CONDITION: Worn. There is a check through the left cheek. Beads and shells are missing throughout. There is a dark brown patina covering the facial area.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Kuba (Bushoong subgroup). Bwoom Mask, late 19th or early 20th century. Wood, copper alloy, skin, fur, plant fiber, textile, glass beads, cowrie shell, seedpods, pigments, 13 3/4 x 8 1/4 x 12 in. (35 x 21 x 30.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John McDonald, 73.178. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 73.178_SL1.jpg)
IMAGE 73.178_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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