late 19th early 20th century male Kuba "pwoom itok" mask adorned with three carved horns.
The Kuba used a variety of masks and the “pwoon itok” is one of them, they are used in the northern part of the kingdom by the Ngongo for initiation of
young males, part of a secret society and fulfilled police functions.
Ref. Torday/ Joyce 1910 p 169 The kingdom was multi-ethnic, with the Bushong ruling over a number of other ethnic groups The Kuba live in the Lower
Kasai region of central Zaire in a rich environment of dense forest and savanna. Organized into a federation of chiefdoms, the almost 200 000 Kuba are
a diverse group of over eighteen different peoples unified under the Bushong king. They share a single economy and, to varying degrees, common cultural
and historical traditions. Agriculture is the main occupation, supplemented by hunting, fishing, and trading.
The name "Kuba" comes from the Luba people to the southeast. The Kuba art first became known about in Europe in the 1890s through Ludwig Wolf’s account
They have elaborate courtly art forms, including royal portrait statues, elegant cups, masks, drums, containers, dolls and numerous regalia for persons
of high rank.
Provenance: acquired from Kuba king N'boeupe Mabiintsh III on his visit to South Africa in 2007.
Objects like this come along once in a lifetime
Kuba king N’boeupe Mabiintsh III
The Nyimi Mabiintsh III is fifty years old. He acquired the throne at the age of twenty.
As descendant of God the creator, the king is attributed with supernatural powers.
Due to his top position he is restricted by several constraints: He does not have the right to sit on the ground, and he cannot cross a cultivated field. Apart from his cook, no one has seen him eat. Moreover he never travels without him, and his personal cooking utensils.
It took me three weeks to photograph the Nyimi (King) of the Kuba in his royal apparel, the "bwantshy".
The outfit is made out of material stitched with beads and "cauris" (small shells used an money in Africa) and weighs 160lb. It takes more than two hours to dress the king and two days of spiritual preparation to be sufficiently purified in order to wear the outfit.
The weight and the heat of the bwantshy is such that it is impossible to wear it more than one hour. The preceding king had only worn it three times during his entire life.
A fine Chokwe chair
27cm by 30cm and height 67.5cm
The Chokwe spread from their homeland of Angola throughout the southern region of the D.R.C. and Zambia.
They were cattle-raisers, small farmers and hunters.
The Chokwe were governed by large chieftaincies which were directed by an aristocracy.
The Chokwe grow manioc, cassava, yams, and peanuts.
Tobacco and hemp are also grown for snuff, and maize is grown for beer.
Domesticated livestock is also kept, and includes sheep, goats, pigs,and chickens. Protein is added through hunting.
There is an exclusive association of big game hunters known as Yanga.
The two most important, Chihongo and Pwo were originally made in resin but are now usually carved in wood. Chihongo is the male mask, auspicious for well-being and wealth, and was formerly worn by a chief’s son and it levied a sort of tribute and took part in judicial matters.
The courts of the aristocracy and the chiefs became the major sources of patronage for the arts.
The cross form on the forehead is an early Portuguese influence with is known as “cingelyengelye”...and originally, cingelyengelye occurred as a necklace in the form of a cross, cut from tin plate and worn by the Chokwe as an amulet.
The current chair was made for a chiefs son, carved from a single piece of wood with the backrest features a fully dressed Chihongo masked performer in full costume, the arched fiber skirt indicates the engagement in a dance that stresses the energetic nature of the ancestor.
Objects like this come along once in a lifetime
Ref no: 53
Angola / D.R.Congo / Zambia
A fine and aged Lwena female mask
The Chokwe, Lunda, Lwene, Luchazi, Ovimbundu and Mbundu share the same common ancestry with that of the royal Lunda.
Marie Louise Bastin explains that a Lwena style of carving is distinguished by the “gentleness of its line a tendency toward naturalism, and a taste for round and full forms. Lwena “Pwo” masks sometimes incorporate tall, rounded coiffures.
This fine Lwena mask was collected by Captain John Procter from Durban, who traded in West Africa for many years.
In his early days he became interested in the sculpture from Gabon and the Congo, being very religious he had many contacts with missionaries during the 1930’s.
Most of his collection was in storage for many years and preserved in the same condition as it was collected at grassroots level.
Provenance: Collected by Captain John Proctor
Stan & Barbara Andre (by descent through the family)
Errol George Weidman
Acquired from the above
Ref no: 93
A fine Songye anthropomorphic hemp-mortar male figure
The founders of the Songye emerged from the lake region in Shaba province to the south in the heart of the Luba homeland (Kasai the eastern part of the D.R.C).
The Lomani River divides Songye territory and marks the boundary of the areas invaded by the Luba.
As a result of these geographic and political differences there emerged of two distinct social structures among the eastern and western Songye and two stylistic differences in art forms between the two areas.
The Songye are divided into about 35 subgroups.
The paramount chief (Yakitenge) and his advisers are the central power in Songye territory.
Many of the subgroups were actually quite large, were often spread over many miles, and were densely populated.
The Songye traditionally relied mostly on farming and hunting for subsistence.
Because the rivers were associated with the spirits of deceased chiefs who were often buried in them, fishing was not practiced.
The initiation of young boys was performed by the “bukishi” society but disappeared at the beginning of the 20th century.
The fetishist “nganga” would make the “boanga” with magic ingredients which he crumbled and mixed to obtain a paste that was stored in this hemp-mortar male figure, with expresses great wisdom and strength.
Ref no: 34