Mask, Ituri Region; D.R.C. Congo
Wood, raffia fiber, pigments; H. 7 3/4"
Masks of the Ituri River basin have
been brought to the forefront only recently. Made
by groups occupying the land among the Ituri pygmies,
they utilize painted design elements on their surfaces
that have long been associated with the better-known
painted bark-cloth textiles of the pygmies. Masks
from this region, indeed this example too, often
depict the human face as belligerent or leering.
Additionally the masks are polychromed and may be
bisected or quartered, with oppositional patterning.
However, in some cases a single pattern is repeated
over the entire surface. Utilized in the context
of a boy's initiation, this powerful mask is at
once attractive and aggressive.