20th century, 1950–2000
Artist Unidentified

Object Place: Democratic Republic of the Congo


Overall: 57 x 40 x 44 cm (22 7/16 x 15 3/4 x 17 5/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Wood, pigment, cloth, raffia

Not On View


Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art



This mask is part of nkanda initiatory training for young boys. Performances accompanied the rituals, since masks-perceived as images of ancestors and departed culture heroes-embodied powerful collective memories and protected the initiates. There are eight different types of masks, some powerful and terrifying, others more entertaining. This mask, designated as ndeemba, delighted the crowd. Their fanciful headdresses with figurative elements allude to complex ideas about the cosmos.


1959, sold by the Galerie Lemaire, Brussels, to Geneviève McMillan (b. 1922 - d. 2008), Cambridge, MA; 2008, to the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation, Cambridge; 2009, gift of the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 17, 2009)

Credit Line

Gift of Geneviève McMillan in memory of Reba Stewart