shows around the world
L. Pescador, 1995
Mask (ex Zaire, now Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kwango
Area, Katundu Zone).
Wood, beads, cowrie shells, fibres, metal, paint.
H. 18 cm (wooden section only)
Julius Konietzko, Hambourg
Mamadou Keita, Amsterdam
Joaquin Pecci, Bruxelles
initiation mask are worn after the circumcision ceremony (mukanda)
undergone by young boys. They may represent different characters (a
sluggard, a dirty, dishevelled man, a streetwalker, and so forth); different
professions (woodcutter, hunter); or animals. Some masks depict different
historical characters- the pigmy, the foreigner, the Luba, the missionary.
Originally these masks were used in religious activities. Gradually,
however, their theatrical style of performance gave way to an approach more
relaxing for their audience. This mask probably portrays of a prince. Worthy
of note is the gentle modeling with the unbroken arch of the eyebrows barely
raised in relief, but indicated with a dark line. From the plaited fibre
strands representing the hair hang a number of taxation tags from colonial
times. (In: Herreman Frank: “Sculptuur uit Africa en Oceanie.
Sculpture from Africa and Oceania”, Rijskmuseum Kroller-Muller,
An annotation of the Scholar Zoe Strother about this mask:
I will make a few general comments. The general shape of the
face and the handling of ears and brow suggest Pende. There is precedent for
the continuous vertical line down the forehead and nose with tacks, esp.
among the Eastern Pende. The mouth could go either way. The decorative
cicatrice under the eyes is wrong for Pende. They make use of it to soften
the cheekbones on female masks rather than to echo the eye orbits (as Chokwe
do). There may be clues in the coloration & how it is applied. It looks
reddish in the photos. If so, that is more suggestive of Pende. Older masks
used the same red cosmetic barkwood paste that people used (mistakenly
called "camwood" sometimes/Kuba call it "tukula" or "nkula"). Then there's
the beautiful coiffure, which is unprecedented for DOCUMENTED Pende masks.My
suspicion that I would want to explore is that it comes from a Chokwe
sculptor working on the Pende frontier in southern DRC. No one has worked
with this community but they were very active carvers. Pende in particular
admired their female masks and often placed commissions with them or bought
examples from itinerant carvers who passed through their villages. You can
find a better map in my other book, "Inventing Masks,"* p. 7. There was a
lot of moving back and forth, especially in the early colonial period, for
reasons that would take too long to explain.That is the best that I can do
without handling it. Objects and carvers moved across ethnic boundaries all
the time as de Sousberghe* himself emphasized. One thing -- it is
definitely NOT Gatundo (misspelled by Francophones as "Katundu").
*Strother Zoe, “Inventing Masks”, University of
Chicago Press,Chicago, 1998
*De Sousberghe L., “L’Art Pende”, Académie
Royale du Belgique, bruxelles, 1959.
Strother Zoe, “Inventing Masks”, University of Chicago Press,
De Sousberghe L., “L’Art Pende”, Académie Royale du Belgique,
- Sculptuur uit Afrika en
from Africa and Oceania, Rijksmuseum, Kröller-Müller,
Otterlo, Novembre 1990 - Gennaio 1991.
- Masques Pende, Galerie
Joaquin Pecci, Bruxelles, 9 giugno - 9 luglio 2010.
- L'Africa delle meraviglia -
Arti africane nelle collezioni italiane, Palazzo Ducale e Castello d'Albertis,
31 dicembre 2010 - 5 giugno 2011.
- Cover of Arts d'Afrique
Noir magazine n. 57, 1986.
- Van Kootenm T. et van den
Heuvel, G (Eds), Sculptuur
uit Afrika en Oceani/Sculpture from Africa and Oceania,
Otterlo, 1990, pag. 148, no. 64.
- Bargna I, e Parodi da
Passano G., L'Africa delle meraviglia - Arti africane nelle collezioni
italiane, Genova, Silvana Editoriale, Cinisello Balsamo (MI), pag. 92.