Face mask embroidered extensively wtih glass beads. Two long panels hang down the front and back of the wearer. Humanoid face at top has two round eye holes allowing the wearer to see, a strip of fabric for nose and open, upturned mouth. Ears are protruding disks attached on either side of the face . Top of the head is covered with small, corklike knobs covered with black cloth. The beadwork is predominantly green, with intricate, scallop-shaped patterns along edge of panels, and vertical, star-like patterns filling center of the panels. Interior of panels is lined with damask.
Stylized images of the elephant abound in the pageantry that surrounded Bamileke kings and men of distinction. The elephant masquerade was danced by members of powerful men’s regulatory societies that oversaw the ritual and judicial affairs of the kingdom. Performed at royal festivals and funerals, these masks honored the authority of leadership and the transcendental forces of the forest.
Mask of a human figure. Embellished with presitious materials: dyed cloth, leopard skin, cowry shells, glass beads.
This mask depicts the founding Kuba king. Through masquerade, the current Kuba king reenacts the founding of the kingdom, defeating all obstacles in his way. The king links his own reign to the ancestral kings, legitimizing his own rule.
A full-body costume and mask depicting a human figure.
This costume and mask depcits bwoom, a character from the trio of royal Kuba masks. Bwoom represents a number of impediments to the Kuba founding king: the king's younger brother, commoners, or a magical trickster/pygmy. Bwoom represents the autochthonous, pre-dynastic political powers that the king overcomes.