Central Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Bembe, possibly early 20th century
wood, pigment, Overall: 46 cm (18 1/16 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 sculptureâ€™s short projections above the forehead are identified as an owlâ€™s tufts. The two pairs of eyes could refer to divination.
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