This is a shield like mask with a handle in the back. It has h highly abstract designs. The facial features, eyes, nose, and mouth are a composition of symbols. The Teke masquerade dances originally served to confirm and maintain the social and political structure in a ceremonial context. With the onset of French colonial rule this tradition began to go into decline, and it was not until the countries gained independence that it was partly revived.
The name of the ethnic group indicates its occupation – that is, trading – from teke meaning "to buy." The Teke inhabit the Stenley Pool area, in both Congo republics, which is an area of plateaus covered by savannah, in villages grouped under a district chief. They are farmers and hunters. The Teke believed in a supreme being, the creator of the universe, called Nziam, but their only cult was an ancestor cult.