Central Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Bembe, possibly early 20th century
Wood, pigment, Overall: 46 cm (18 1/8 in.). Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 2006.116
Among the Bembe, anthropo--zoomorphic plank masks are used in circumcision rites called butende. They are worn along with a costume of bark and banana leaves by the initiated boys who beg for food in the village while living in seclusion in the forest. The sculpture’s short projections above the forehead are identified as an owl’s tufts. The two pairs of eyes could refer to divination.
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