Image Gallery → Power and Prestige

  • Male Royal Ancestor Mask
  • Kuba Belt
  • Kuba Belt
  • Sash with Triangular Pendant
  • Hat (Mpaan)
  • Kuba Belt
  • Man's Prestige Hat (ashetu)
  • Beaded Coronet
  • Beaded Coronet
  • Beaded Coronet
  • Beaded Crown (adenla)
  • Royal Slippers
  • Elephant Mask
Ancestor Mask

Male Royal Ancestor Mask (Mbwoom)

Kuba People
Democratic Republic of Congo
Male Royal Ancestor Mask (Mbwoom)
1939
Wood, copper, raffia, beads, cowrie shells
Gift of Rod McGalliard
2004.37.5

Kuba masquerade groups who perform in the presence of royalty include a triad representing the mythical founders of Kuba culture. The triad includes a male figure, Bwoom, who has an enlarged forehead and is sometimes identified as a member of a neighboring group. The elaborate beading on the mask, with imported cowries and glass beads, signifies wealth and prestige befitting a royal personage. The intricate and extensive patterning seen in the beaded portions are considered to be a sign of civilized individuals. The coral and blue beaded knot pattern on the back of the head is used frequently to mark royal status, and is also rendered in textiles and architecture.

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