240147 - Old African Lulua mask with beard - Congo.


Old African Lulua mask with beard - Congo
Hand carved from a single piece of wood, with raffia beard.
Total Height: 72 cm and only the wood mask are 55 cm high.
The Lulua numbering 300,000 inhabit a vast region in the province of West Kasai in the south central DRC. They live in small relatively independent regional chiefdoms. Lulua women grow manioc as a staple crop, as well as beans, sweet potatoes, maize, yams, peanuts, and bananas. The men are responsible for clearing the forest and preparing the soil for cultivation. They also hunt, fish with nets, and trap animals in the surrounding forests. The Lulua were never politically united and therefore there were a large number of relatively autonomous chiefs, which meant that many local dignitaries had works of art dedicated to them. The heterogeneous composition of the Lulua, and the considerable area they occupy, explain the many stylistic overlapping with their neighbors. Lulua art is very personal and has very little relation to neighboring styles, in particular the Kuba. The Lulua masks representing the spirits of the dead are used by masqueraders who perform during circumcision rites in initiation ceremonies.