Lot 147
  • 147

Songye-Luba Kifwebe Mask, Democratic Republic of the Congo

300,000 - 500,000 USD
605,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • wood


Jean Willy Mestach, Brussels, by 1981
William S. Rubin, New York, acquired from the above
European Private Collection, acquired from the above
Christie's, New York, November 22, 1996, lot 168
Myron Kunin, Minneapolis, acquired at the above auction


François Neyt, Arts traditionnels et histoire au Zaïre - Traditional Arts and History of Zaïre, Louvain, 1981, p. 269, fig. XIV.9
Jacques Kerchache, Jean-Louis Paudrat, and Lucien Stéphan (eds.), L'Art africain, Paris, 1988, p. 451, pl. 717
Jacques Kerchache, Jean-Louis Paudrat, and Lucien Stéphan (eds.), Die Kunst des Schwarzen Afrika, Freiburg, 1989, p. 451, pl. 717
Jacques Kerchache, Jean-Louis Paudrat, and Lucien Stéphan (eds.), Art of Africa, New York, 1993, p. 451, pl. 717
Kerry Hannon, "Out of Africa", US News and World Report, May 5, 1997, p. 73
No author listed, "Auction and Sales: Autumn and Winter 1996", The World of Tribal Arts, Vol. III, No. 4, Spring 1997, p. 27
Amy Page, "Auction Reviews: Tribal Art", Art & Auction, 1997, p. 95
Jean-Baptiste Bacquart, The Tribal Arts of Africa, New York and London, 1998, p. 156, fig. 1

Catalogue Note

The unusual aesthetic of this exceptionally fine and widely published Songye-Luba mask is an inventive departure from the classic striated kifwebe type.  The rounded face, of strong Luba characteristics with its elegantly rounded forehead, appears to flow or melt into a bib-shaped collar which would extend down over the clavicle of the wearer.  The combination of Luba and Songye styles is typical for the border region between both people and has historic roots.  Kerchache (1993: 576) notes: "The history of the [Songye] is closely linked to the Luba's, to whom they are related through common ancestors.  According to tradition, Kongolo, the founder of the first Luba empire in the sixteenth century, was a [Songye]."