Mask (mbuya)

20th century, 1950–2000
Artist Unidentified

Object Place: Democratic Republic of the Congo


Overall: 33 x 23 x 21 cm (13 x 9 1/16 x 8 1/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Wood, pigment, cloth, raffia

Not On View


Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art



This mask of the mbuya type belongs in the context of Pende men’s fraternities that performed masquerades for the entire community. Although the costume is missing, this work can be identified by its horned coiffure with receding hairline. It represents pumbu, the “executioner,” a man who killed another human being and thus commands fear and respect.


1970s, sold by an unidentified African merchant in Cambridge, MA, 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