220645 - Old African Ituri Kumu mask - Congo.


Very old Finely crafted African Ituri Kumu mask, Congo.

Hand carved from a single piece of wood, with color pigments.

Heights: 36 cm.

The masks of the Kumu (Komo) have become known to collectors only in the last quarter century, mostly as a result of an influx of foreign aide workers into the region.  The Kumu live on the western edges of the Ituri Rainforest, one of the few remaining virgin ecosystems left on earth. Ituri lies just to the west of the Great Lakes Region and the countries of Uganda and Tanzania. It is home to many rare animals and plants, as well as many human cultures which are ethnological mysteries. The rare okapi, the world's most endangered antelope, lives in Ituri, as well as some of the last surviving mountain and lowland gorillas. Artistically, the Ituri peoples are interrelated to such an extent that styles, shapes, and coloration tend to coalesce. Sadly, the civil unrest in the Congo will limit research and scientific inquiry for years to come. The unifying factor in Ituri art is a naive beauty and charm, both irresistible and heartbreaking.