Binji Kuba mask

Binji Kuba mask

Mbwoon
Binji, D.R. of Congo
wood, seeds, rafia
33cm (13in)
1900 - 1930
ex Boston collection
inv # 814
sold


Masks of this quality, age and uniqueness are infrequently available to collectors.
Few masks are authoritatively identified to the Binji people of the D.R. of Congo due to misidentification or to the lack of detailed information on the people themselves and their art. The Binji are related to the Bushoong, the founders of the Kuba kingdom that includes a number of subgroups such as the Lele, Dengese, Kete and Wongo. At some point the Binji split from the Bushoong and moved east towards the Kasai-Sankuru river region - Western Kasai province, retaining the mask rituals of the Kuba. Among the greater Kuba a complex set of masks were used during initiations, funerals and at the royal court under the King's patronage to dramatise mythological themes portraying the origins of the Kuba. This large dance mask called 'Mbwoom' portrays a commoner or a prince at court, or pygmies, who are thought to have magical powers.

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