Mbangu Mask

cmk-0307-05_mbangu_f_  cmk-0307-05_mbangu_v_  cmk-0307-05_mbangu_b_  cmk-0307-05_mbangu_34p_

CMK 0307-05

Mbangu Mask, Central Pende, Bandundu, Zaïre (Congo)

H: 26 cm (10,2″) W: 14 cm (5,5″)

Wood, reed/white pigments

A fine old sickness Pende mask. Although his face shows signs of nerve paralysis, features characteristic of the Katundu style in the Pende are still apparent. This mask comes from the Central Pende region in the Bandundu province, south of Zaïre.

The mask shows that a curse can strike — like lightning — without warning. Onlookers see one of their own kind who has been rendered powerless, unable to shake off the curse that has struck him.

In the past, mbuya masks were used to mark the end of circumcision rituals but today they play a more festive role. Within a group, actors take turns to dance and set the stage for different characters to appear: the chief, the lawmaker, the hunter, the village flirt, the priest, the witchdoctor, etc. Each is characterized by a specific dance step and a distinct rhythm. Mbangu appears as a hunchback who has been struck by an arrow. The masked dancer develops the dance in concert with the audience, who mock him while at the same time chanting an accompaniment.

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