Bembe Alunga Secret Association Mask, Democratic Republic of Congo #52

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  • Bembe Alunga Secret Association Mask, Democratic Republic of Congo #52
  • "Ecwabuka ya Alunga" (the Head of Alunga) or "Echwaboka" Mask (PP Gossiaux)
  • This Ibulu lya 'Alunga (Head of the Alunga) Mask was used during the tribal ritual of the Male Society Alunga, exercising social control over the Clan, and responsible for the public dances and ceremonies preceding the Hunt. Evocation of a Forest Spirit, this Mask was kept in Sacred Areas, and it was during Festivals associated with the Hunt and Ancestor Cults that it was displayed. They also appeared during the Bwame Circumcision Ceremonies.
  • The Bembe Ethnic Group is a Luba branch that is said to have migrated from The Congo in the 18th century. Their society and artistic tendencies are marked by the influence of their neighbors from the Lake Tanganyika Region, the Lega, the Buyu, etc. Indeed, like the Lega, the Bembe both had a Bwami Association, responsible for the initiation and structuring the Society but while the Bwami was exclusive among the Lega, other similar Associations such as the Alunga, the Elunda and the Bwame coexisted among the Bembe.
  • These masks are often Janiform (having a face on each of two sides) or Monoxyl (something made from a single piece of log or log) Helmets. But not always, it can be also two half-cylinders connected by cords or plant fibers. An example is given and illustrated in "Masks of Africa" (pages 146 and 147), in "Fleuve Congo" (Figure 65 page 107), and in "Persona" (pages 214 and 215)
  • The Bembe are based in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, north of Lake Tanganyika. 
  • Origin: Democratic Republic of Congo (ex Zaire, ex Belgian Congo).
  • Material: Wood.
  • Measurements: About 13 3/4 inches high.
  • Condition: Heavy Patina and Polychrome Pigments displayed.
  • Date/Period: Second half of 20th century.