Mask (bwoom)

20th century
Artist Unidentified

Object Place: Democratic Republic of the Congo


33.02 cm (13 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Wood, copper, beads, cloth, shells, and seeds

Not On View


Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art



This forceful helmet mask performed at initiations and other ceremonies related to the foundation of the Kuba kingdom and its ruling Bushoong dynasty. Depending on the context, such masks might embody nature spirits, commoners, nearby Mbuti (pygmy) forest dwellers, or the founder Woot’s contentious brother Bwoom, who competed for the affections of Woot’s wife-sister. The bulging forehead and lips are sheathed in copper, and lavish strands of beads ornament the surface, beard, and ears.


Acquired in Zaire (Democratic Republic of the Congo) by Marc Leo Felix (dealer), Brussels; October 26, 1989, sold by Felix to William and Bertha Teel, Marblehead, MA; 1994, partial gift of William and Bertha Teel to the MFA; 2014, acquired fully with the bequest of William Teel to the MFA. (Accession Dates: January 26, 1994 and February 26, 2014)

Credit Line

Gift of William E. and Bertha L. Teel