Many kifwebe artifacts are characterized by lineal patterns all over the face. Used by the secret society of the same name, they represent spirits. The Kifwebe connect the visible world and the spirit world. They are used in ceremonies to mark important periods of social transition and transformation, appearing at the death of a chief or any other eminent person, or when a person assumes an important political title. Used on the night of the new moon, they are also performed in honor of ancestors. They also are perceived as having healing abilities.
During the first two decades of the twentieth century, the kifwebe tradition spread throughout the Luba and Songye regions of southwest DRC. Examples of kifwebe artifacts entered European collections by the second half of the nineteenth century.