Mbuya, or sculptured wooden masks in the form of human or animal faces, were worn with prescribed costumes by graduates of the Mukanda initiation school in their coming-out rites. These masks represented a great variety of village characters, including a clown, or "chief of the dance floor," and those whose behavior was admired or disapproved. Although the performance was entertaining, it taught moral lessons and reinforced Pende religious and political principals.
This mask has small eye openings to ensure that the whites of the eyes do not show. In accordance with the Pende rules of behavior, men are forbidden to stare - or to show the whites of their eyes.
Provenance: Raskin Private Collection
See this mask on our museum web site