Wood and paint
Overall: 71.2 cm (28 1/16 in.)
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1972.2
The three-colored stripes on this kifwebe mask visually link it to powerful and dangerous animals including zebras, snakes, lions, and porcupines; not all of these animals are local to where the Songye peoples live.
The closely spaced, painted grooves on this kifwebe mask accentuate the contours of the mask itself. The colors are mixed with sacred substances that activate the mask and help induce the wearer to enter a state of being between human and spirit. The theme of transformation may be inherent in the form of the mask itself, which recalls, in an abstracted way, some of the distinctive traits of the chameleon—a supreme symbol of transformative power.
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