Chimpanzee mask, Hemba, D. R. Congo

This is a fine classical Hemba "mwisi gwa so'o" mask. The exaggerated features of this mask, part human and part chimpanzee, contrast with the noble and reserved ancestral figures of the classic Hemba style. The wide open mouth and raised eyebrows were meant to be fearsome and terrifying.  Misi gwa so'o masks were used at funerals to symbolize the presence of death.

The mask shows a long tapering nose, arched eyebrows, closed eyes with sickle-shaped lids an a broad opened mouth; these masks are looked upon as frightening characters. Their apparently grinning mouth is promising rage and disaster and is reminding of the fear of death.

Hard wood, brown, dry patina, little insect caused damage, age cracks, on metal base.

H: 18 cm - 7.01 inch. W: 11,5 - 4.53 inch.