This is a fabulous small Hemba Monkey Mask from the peoples of Zaire in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The extremely stylized chimpanzee masks are called mwisi gwa so'o a term that alludes to the "spirit-ivested object of the chimpanzee human" that inhabits the mask. The mwisi gwa so'o masqueraders wear a costume of animal skin, barkcloth and the hair of Colobis monkeys. Their raucous dances, performed at funeral and memorial services, reflect Hemba ideas about death and social chaos and stand in diametrical opposition to the otherwise ordered world of the living. The nose on this mask is fine and the jaw is large and pierced. This chimpanzee faced mask is worn not on the face but at the waist, at the belt line. It is known among the Hemba simply as (Mwisi Gwa So'o or "Soko Muntu" which means 'monkey mask" The Hemba monkey mask reflects the ability of the African artist to characterize the idea of life and death in brooding sculptural form, as well as the dancers ability to impart the lessons of living within a rationally structured society. A very fascinating and symbolic mask that was collected in the field, shows age and has a nice patina. This would be a wonderful addition to your home.
Late 20th Century
COMES ON STAND
4 1/4" wide
3 1/2" deep
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