240740 - African Kuba Pwoo Itok mask from the Kuba - Congo


African Kuba Pwoo Itok Mask from the Kuba - Congo
Size: 35 cm × 30 cm.

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

This facial mask belongs to the Pwoo Itok and Isheen Maal category of masks among the Kuba-Ngeende people. It exhibits distinctive features such as a prominent forehead, cone-shaped eyes, and multiple openings around the eyes reminiscent of a chameleon's vision. The mask features a large triangular nose.
Pwoo Itok and Isheen Maal masks are associated with the Kuba-Bushoong, Shoowa, and Ngeende communities. Isheen Maal is believed to be inspired by Pwoo Itok, and although they are often considered the same mask with different names based on location, the Shoowa may use Pwoo Itok, while the Kuba prefer Isheen Maal. These masks were traditionally uséd in dance ceremonies during the initiation of young men. Among the Bushoong, the Batende, a secret regulatory society, wore them and were responsible for apprehending criminals.
The Ngeende group traces its lineage to Ishweemy, one of Woot's nine sons, the primordial founder of the Kuba Kingdom. The Ngeende hold special significance in the Kuba Kingdom, safeguarding the official charms, Muyum. They share a common history, culture, and traditions with the Kuba, and representatives from the Ngeende still participate in the Kuba-Bushoong court. Living in small villages led by chiefs and elders, the Ngeende produce art, including masks, reflecting similarities with the Kuba-Bushoong, Ngoongo, and Kete. Some masks, like this one, are believed to be crafted by the Ngeende and narrate the story of Woot and other key figures in the foundation of the Kuba Kingdom. These masks were uséd in funeral ceremonies for notable individuals and during initiation rites.