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A Fine Old Eastern Pende Mask Pende People Democratic Republic of Congo Africa

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Collection No. TB-4164
Size 32cm x 34cm
New Guinea Oceanic Art
Asian Buddhist Art
New Guinea & Oceanic Art
Abelam New Guinea Art
Asian & Japan Scholars Art
The Art of Compassion The Todd Barlin Collection

A Fine Old Eastern Pende Mask, Pende People Democratic Republic of Congo Africa

This expressive Mask is from the Eastern Pende People in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Africa. This type of mask called ‘Giphogo’ are among the symbols of power used by chiefs of the Eastern Pende. Only chiefs are allowed to dance with this type of mask on the occasion of initiations and rituals of the ancestor cult of the Eastern Pende.

The most important Pende masks were those used in initiation ceremonies for the circumcision of young boys. That is the case for this Giphogo (Kipoko) type of mask, In the Gatundu region, famous for its artists’ workshops, these masks represent a beneficial force in case of illness

Masks are the dominant form of Pende sculptural work and are used in masquerades where artists, musicians, and dancers perform their accomplished arts. The look and character of a mask is conceptualized by male dancers who perform it. The dancer creates the mask only after he has choreographed a dance for it, written a song for it, and selected the necessary dance costumes and props to accompany it. When these things have been accomplished the dancer collaborates with a drummer to come up with the lead rhythm for the mask’s dance. Finally, if the mask is new in concept or character a master sculptor will be consulted to expertly reflect the nature of the being.

The Pende people have many different kinds of masks they wear, especially at adult initiation rituals and funerals. The word giphogo (or kipoko) means “sword wielder” and is a symbol of power among the Eastern Pende. The mask is kept in the chief’s home, and only chiefs are allowed to authorize dance with this type of mask on the occasion of initiations and rituals of the ancestor cult of the Eastern Pende. It represents the village chief as an intermediary between the living and the dead, and its uses include protection from evil spirits; prayers or thanks for successful harvests tribal fertility; identifying and punishing sorcerers; and adult initiation during mukanda rituals. The dance is called Lukongo among the Eastern Pende.  The masquerade carries one or two flywhisks made of animal hair, which are used to mimic agricultural work or to purify the village grounds.  As the kipoko dances, he mimics the daily tasks of village women, meanwhile flicking the ground with the whisks and making semicircular kicks to protect the village against evil spirits or sorcerers, to purify disease and sterility, and to quiet discord. Every Eastern Pende boy must learn the Lukongo dance to be initiated into the men’s secret society

I have collected a few antique African Sculptures based solely on their forms, Mumuye &  & Yaka / Suku / Pende Sculptures from the Congo.  I wanted to see what they looked like next to sculptures from Papua New Guinea & they look amazing together.

Provenance: The Todd Barlin Collection of Oceanic & African Art

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