Congo tribal helmet mask adorned with shells, beading, metal, and burlap, possibly made by the Kuba people. The Kuba have used more than 20 different types of masks for various functions, including initiation ceremonies and funerals.
This mask may be a Bwoom mask. Kuba mythology revolves around three figures, each represented by a masquerade character: Woot, the creator and founder of the ruling dynasty; Woot’s spouse; and Bwoom. Bwoom’s identity varies according to different versions of the myth, but he may represent the king’s younger brother, a person of Twa descent, or a commoner. Embodying a subversive force within the royal court, the Bwoom masquerade is often performed in conflict with the masked figure representing Woot.
The mask was acquired at a market in the Hartbeespoort Dam area of South Africa and is mounted on custom wood stand.