Pwoom-Itok Ceremonial Dance Mask

Masks of this type were used within the context of the boys initiation ceremonies. According to the Ngongo, this sort of mask was known by the Babende, a powerful secret society of this ethnic group that held a high official position in each village. They held the  ceremony during war or combat against social crime.

The Ngongo also have a legend that attributes such a mask to the creation of a woman in the time of Samba-Mikepe; who subsequently became the founder of the Babende, most likely a highly held division of the initiation-institution.

There are nine different dance masks belonging to the pantheon of the Bushoong in which the main principle mask is the Pwoom-Itok that was worn by a notable person of their group.

This mask is depicted with a protruding crown or forehead, a receding hairline, and a large triangular-shaped nose. With inset eye sockets and tubular, projecting, cylindrical eyes, the dancer sees through two groups of drilled or burned-out peepholes..

Provenance:  The first known American collector was the renowned collector Lawrence P. Kolton and Rachel Angotti of Michigan City, Indiana, between the years of 1969 and 1979.

Circa 1940s
Wood, polychrome, cloth, feathers, cowrie shells
13 x 13 x 12 in
33 x 33 x 30 cm
Kuba people;Region of West Kasai, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central Africa