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Mask (Lukwakongo)

Arts of Africa

Miniature wooden masks constitute some of the most important insignia of the second-highest grade of Bwami. Generally these miniature masks, known as lukwakongo, have a heart-shaped face framed by a line formed by the nose, the eyebrows, and the planes of the cheeks. The face is whitened with clay, while the forehead and edges characteristically have a glossy brown patina. The holes running around the lower edge of this mask would originally have held a beard made of liana fibers. Lukwakongo are never worn on the face, but are instead tied to the arm or displayed on a fence at Bwami meetings.
MEDIUM Wood, kaolin clay
DATES 19th or 20th century
DIMENSIONS 10 1/2 x 6 x 2 1/4 in. (26.7 x 15.2 x 5.7 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
CREDIT LINE Gift of Nicholas A. de Kun
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Oval shaped wooden face mask with concave, heart shaped face area. Facial area painted white; some of the paint has worn off. Seven drill holes appear on bottom and one on each side of mask. Coffee bean shaped bulging eyes with slits in center. Mouth aperture is very small with two diagonal notches on either side. Long narrow nose extends down from arching browline. CONDITION: Cracks and pitting on forehead and chin.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Lega. Mask (Lukwakongo), 19th or 20th century. Wood, kaolin clay, 10 1/2 x 6 x 2 1/4 in. (26.7 x 15.2 x 5.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Nicholas A. de Kun, 71.173. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 71.173.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 71.173.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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