Ituri Mask, Congo
H: 26 cm (10,2″) W: 16 cm (6,3″)
Etori also called Ituri or Uituri is the name of a rainforest in DR Congo. The area is inhabited by many ethnic groups, that each make masks in different styles. In the northern part of the rainforest masks are made in a very stylized style close to the abstract, whereas in the eastern part of the rainforest masks are more realistic in the representation of faces with human and animal features.
The masks in the Etori area are known for their flatness, oval form, open mouths with sharpened teeth and large carving as eyes.
Some masks have a round or v-shaped form. The surface of the mask is often painted in black or white as the most dominant colour, but some masks from the northern part of the rainforest can also have red details. Here masks with painted dots are most common.
Nothing is left to chance in the carving of the Etori masks. Every cut in the wood, every line and colouring have a symbolic meaning that often refers to the animal or spirit world. The masks are used in different rituals for fertility, tests of manhood and memorials to important ancestors.