Kuba live in the area of central DRC bordered by the Sankuru, Kasai, and Lulua rivers.
Kuba wooden masks are probably the most popular with the collectors. Over twenty types of masks are used among the Kuba, with meanings and functions that vary from group to group. One widespread context for masking is initiation. Every several years a group of boys will be inducted into manhood through the initiation, which transforms uncircumcised boys into initiated men who possess esoteric knowledge.
Funerals are a second important context for masks throughout the Kuba area. A hierarchy of masks appears at funerals even of untitled men, though they are especially important at the funerals of titleholders. All the masks besides tree royal masks are collectively known as Isheene Mwalu. The specific function of this mask is unknown.
This mask returned to us after 15 years in a private collection