Mask, Mbunda; Zambia
Wood, pigment; H. 22"
From the easternmost extensions into
present-day Zambia, initiation-to-manhood rituals
known as Mukandacommon to the Chokwe,
Pende, Yaka, and Suku, among othersutilized
this gigantic mask. Such Mbunda masks, classified
as makisi, are said to be ancestral spirits
that frighten women and children and protect the
young initiates. This example, known as Samahongo
among the Mbunda, is said to represent an old diviner.
Its massive head with greatly inflated cheeks echoes
similar masks across the Mukanda Complex
such as Kakungu masks of the Kwango region
and some Chikungu masks among the Chokwe.
The almost perfect hemispherical profile and the
careful interplay of facial planes place this among
the finest known Samahongo masks.