Helmet Mask (Bwoom)

A work made of wood, metal, glass beads, cowrie shells, fabric, pigment, seeds, thread, and leather.

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  • A work made of wood, metal, glass beads, cowrie shells, fabric, pigment, seeds, thread, and leather.

Date:

Late 19th/mid–20th century

Artist:

Kuba
Kasai region, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Central Africa

About this artwork

Embellished with cowrie shells, beads, seed pods, copper sheeting, goatskin, and hair, bwoom is one of three types of royal Kuba masks, all of which are treated as embodiments of nature spirits (mingesh). According to one local interpretation, the bwoom mask represents a prince who suffered from a neurological condition that caused his head to swell with accumulated fluid. Another says that bwoom is the image of one of the original Twa (Pygmy) inhabitants of the region. During performances the masks reenact episodes in the foundation of the kingdom.

On View

Arts of Africa, Gallery 137

Artist

Kuba

Title

Helmet Mask (Bwoom)

Origin

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Date

1875–1945

Medium

Wood, metal, glass beads, cowrie shells, fabric, pigment, seeds, thread, and leather

Dimensions

63.5 × 49.9 × 67.3 cm (25 × 18 1/2 × 26 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Edward E. Ayer Endowment in memory of Charles L. Hutchinson

Reference Number

1982.1506

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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