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Mbuya Mask. The 500,000 Pende people settled in the region near the Loango and Kasai Rivers in the democratic Republic of Congo. The Pende are mainly farmers who produce millet, maize, plantain, and peanuts. The women do the majority of the farm work and are wholly responsible for selling goods in the community markets. The men help with the clearing of the fields and also contribute to the diet with occasional hunting and fishing in the numerous local rivers. The sculptor’s profession is transmitted from father to son. 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.
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