Mask (kifwebe)

20th century
Artist Unidentified

Object Place: Democratic Republic of the Congo


50.8 cm (20 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Wood, pigment, and hair

Not On View


Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art



Both Songye and Luba masking societies employed a dramatic mask called kifwebe, whose linear patterns are said to allude to history, power, and a constellation of other esoteric meanings. The aggressive Songye male type like this example has a sharp crest, protuberant angular features, and red coloring; the female type is round in shape and black in color. The overall incised and whitened striations on both types enhance their sculptural power.


About 1914/1918, said to have been acquired in Africa and taken to Europe. Merton Simpson (dealer), New York. September 9, 1986, sold by Michael Oliver, Inc., New York, to William and Bertha Teel, Marblehead, MA; 1992, gift of William and Bertha Teel to the MFA. (Accession Date: September 26, 1992)

Credit Line

Gift of William E. and Bertha L. Teel