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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Mask (Kifwebe)

Photo: Paul Macapia

Mask (Kifwebe)

This round female mask appeared with a male during significant life crises, particularly to honor the death of important people. Striations, a hallmark of Kifwebe or "driving away death" masks, may refer to the stripes of zebras and bushbacks, or to the ditch leading to the underground abode of the mask's founding spirits.

Collected and published by a Belgian missionary in 1913, this mask is one of the best known works in the museum's collection.

Wood, raffia, bark, pigment, twine
36 1/4 x 24 x 12 in. (92.1 x 60.9 x 30.5 cm)
Gift of Katherine White and the Boeing Company
Photo: Paul Macapia
Now on view at the Seattle Art Museum


Exhibition HistoryParis, France, Musee Dapper Pour Les Arts Africains, Art Luba, November 24, 1993 - April 17, 1994

New York, New York, Museum for African Art, Memory: Luba Art and the Making of History, February 2 - September 8, 1996, 2/2-9/8/96; National Museum of African Art, Washington, D.C., 10/30/96 - 1/26/97; plus possible add'l venues

Cleveland, OH, Cleveland Art Museum, exhibited April 1 - June 1, 2016 as part of their year-long Centennial Exhibition
Published ReferencesSelected Works, Seattle, WA: Seattle Art Museum, 1991, p. 48

Nooter Roberts, Mary, and Allen F. Roberts, Visions of Africa: Luba, 2007, illus. p. 21, cit. p. 128

Seattle Art Museum: Bridging Cultures, London: Scala Publishers Ltd. for the Seattle Art Museum, 2007, p. 49

Petridis, Constantine. “Dancing with the New Moon.” Masterworks on Loan (First Quarter 2016): p.12-17, reproduced p. 12.

Seattle Art Museum acknowledges that we are on the traditional homelands of the Duwamish and the customary territories of the Suquamish and Muckleshoot Peoples. As a cultural and educational institution, we honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future. We also acknowledge the urban Native peoples from many Nations who call Seattle their home.