Object Place: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Overall: 50 x 26 x 13 cm (19 11/16 x 10 1/4 x 5 1/8 in.)
Medium or Technique
Wood, paint, cloth, raffia, fiber (horse hair or thread?)
Not On View
The Mbuya masks of the Pende can represent a wide cast of characters ranging from sorcerers and chiefs to chiefly wives and temptresses. Made of wood and raffia, the masks are generally accompanied by a raffia skirt and dancers perform in both secular and sacred contexts. Performers would hold objects in their hands that related to the characteristics of the mask. For instance, masks that evoked leadership would be accompanied by fly whisks. These characteristics were also reinforced by the accompanying songs and dances associated with the mask.
1978, sold by Billo (?), Paris, 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)
Gift of Geneviève McMillan in memory of Reba Stewart