Exceptional Helmet Mask Kwese

Exceptional Helmet Mask Kwese. Wood, polychrome paint, exuberant grass fibre collar, the actual facial plane proportionally small, coiffure with middle crest.

Provenance: very old Dutch private collection, Mr. J. A. W. Vierkens, Amsterdam

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Size: 58x40x40 cm.

Including metal stand.

The Kwese inhabit an area between the Kwenge and Lutshima Rivers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and are intermingled with the Mabala and Pende peoples. Little is known about the Kwese and their art. A few masks made of wood and fiber may be attributed to the Kwese.

A big and expressive helmet mask from the Kwese tribe located in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. A heart-shaped face with slit eyes and a lobed headdress coloured in red, white, yellow and blue. Some signs of wear and traces of abrasion.

Unlike the other tribes living in the Kwango River region, Kwese people migrated form the west. During the 19th century, they were colonized by the Lunda and the Yaka. A triumvirate of chiefs govern the everyday lives of the Kwese, while territorial and village chiefs organize the farming of millet, corn and manioc. Kwese masks have a heart-shaped face and, when not worn by dancers during initiation and circumcision rites, were kept in “fetish houses” where offerings were made to them.

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