Songye Male Mask, Kalebwe People, Democratic Republic of the Congo

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Lot 133
Songye Male Mask, Kalebwe People, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Sold for US$ 19,062 inc. premium
Songye Male Mask, Kalebwe People, Democratic Republic of the Congo
kifwebe
Wood, pigments
height 14in (36cm)

Provenance
Paul Timmermans Collection (- 1976), Tervuren
Hélène and Philippe Leloup, Paris
Rudolf and Leonore Blum Collection, acquired in 1993
Christie's, Paris, 19 June 2014, Lot 59
European Private Collection

Francois Neyt notes, 'The bifwebe masks of the Kalebwe people represent the heart and the magic and sorcery of the Songye, whose formidable nature progressively spread into the Katanga and Maniema provinces. Yann Le Pichon wrote: "The art of Songye statuary is fearsome and fabulous on two accounts. First, on account of its original, ancestral vocation and its functional and tribal purpose; second, because it largely contributed to disrupting the direction and expression of the Western arts during the first decades of the twentieth century--even to the extent of turning it inside out." In his remarkable book on primitivism, William Rubin also drew attention to the importance of Songye bifwebe masks in the renaissance of the arts of the twentieth century." (Kifwebe - A Century of Songye and Luba Masks, 5 Continents, Milan, 2019, p. 53)

The artist of this majestic mask has successfully captured the spirituality and dynamism of classic kifwebe masks. The polychrome sagittal crest flows down into the triangular nasal plane. The striations above the protruding eyes, with red upper eyelids, are curved; below, where they rise from the chin to the mouth, they are oblique, becoming horizontal from the mouth to the eyes. The lips are open in the form of a four-pointed star. Constructed from light wood with red, white and black polychrome pigments with wear indicative of significant traditional use within the culture.
Contacts
Songye Male Mask, Kalebwe People, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Songye Male Mask, Kalebwe People, Democratic Republic of the Congo
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