240701 - African Kuba Bwoom mask - Congo


Old African Bwoom mask from the Kuba, Congo.

Size: 30 high and 50 cm deep.

This Kuba mask is from the mid of the 20th century, with a certificate of authenticity.

Democratic Republic of the Congo - Kuba. Bwoom helmet mask. Natural patina hardwood, metal, fabric, beads, shells, seeds, and animal fur. Signs of use.

This richly decorated Bwoom mask is part of the triptych of royal Kuba masks. Introduced in the seventeenth century by King Miko mi-Mbul, according to tradition it represents the hydrocephalic brother of the king (the forehead is always very prominent) to whom everything was allowed and who fulfilled a role very similar to what for us Europeans was the court jester. 
The untamed and rebellious character of the Mbooms was evident both in the "overdressing" of the mask and in the proud and agressive manner of dancing.
Fully "clothed" in all its colorful, gaudy and lived-in kit this Mboom mask of the Kuba is one of the icons of African primitive art production.
There are some small missing part (see the picture).
It's made of wood covered with copper foil with finials of glass beads, seeds, shells, goatskin and fabric. Bwoom masks represent one of three types of "royal masks" that among the Kuba embody the Mingesh, mediating spirits between man and God. 

The specific identity of Bwoom varies according to different versions of the myth. He may represent the king's younger brother, a person of Twa descent or a commoner. The Bwoom masquerade embodies a subversive force within the royal court and is performed in defiance of the mask representing Woot.

Very expressive african helmet mask from the Kuba, Congo. The mask is one of three royal Kuba masks. In the annual Kuba feast three royal masks appear that represent the primal ancestors of the Kuba dynasty. The two brothers Woot and Bwoom fought over the throne and their sister Mweel who later married Woot. Wooden helmet mask, shod with sheet copper, with very nice dark patina, decorated with kauri shells, colored glass beads, nut shells and raphia netting.

The vast Kuba territory, comprising the entire southeastern part of the DRC, as far as Tanganyika and Lake Mweru, is uniform as regards language and culture, but racially mixed. Although the history of the Kuba people is one of violence and warfare, their artistic style is characterized by harmonious integration of organically related forms. The splendid artistic achievements of the Kuba are due to a felicitous intermingling of different racial and cultural elements, and to the high standards prevailing at the court. Kuba arts counts amongst the finest that Africa has to offer. Artists occupied a privileged place in the hierarchy. The Kuba artist carried a ceremonial ax on his shoulder, an emblem of prestige and of dignity of his position. Some apprentices would be recruited from among the deformed, who could neither hunt nor be warriors and who were believed to have a close connection.