121
121

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION

Songye Mask, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Estimate
20,00030,000
LOT SOLD. 37,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT
121

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION

Songye Mask, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Estimate
20,00030,000
LOT SOLD. 37,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas

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New York

Songye Mask, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Provenance

Paolo Morigi, Magliaso
Private Collection, acquired from the above

Catalogue Note

Dynamic and well-proportioned, stylized yet expressive, the formal boldness of kifwebe masks have made them icons of African art. The present lot is particularly audacious yet well-balanced. The top half of the narrow and elongated face is bisected by a sharp ridge that extends down into a short and sharply-defined nose. On either side of the ridge the large eyes are topped by bulging painted eyelids, and are hollowed out of a downward-facing plane almost perpendicular to the frontal surface of the face. The end of the protuding mouth is on the same plane as the end of the nose and the front edge of sagittal crest. The striations on the surface connect the angular facial features in a harmonious ensemble.

The iconography of kifwebe masks is highly symbolic and contains numerous references to Songye mythology and cosmology. The deep painted striations recall the metaphysical labyrinth that initiates travel through during their initiation, as well as the rainbow python which is at the center of the Songye creation story. While the masks are connected to manifestations of magical and religious power, they are also linked to earthly functions. As Neyt notes. 'The mask societies see themselves as organs of population control and even judiciary and coercive agencies which reinforce the power of the chief and the nobles.' (Neyt, Songye, 2004, p. 362)

Art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas

|
New York