KUBA MASK ngady amwaash
Democratic Republic of the Congo
30 cm. high
This mask is one of the three royal masks performed by the Kuba. Dating back to the First Dynasty, it was first commissioned by Queen Ngokadi whom wanted to enhance the role of Women. According to Joseph Cornet ("Art Royal Kuba", 1982, p.270), it was worn by men taking on the appearance of a women and performing a choreography imitating female dance steps.
Ngady amwaash also represents the mythic character Mweel who is the sister and wife of Woot, procreator of the Bushong people and incarnated by mwaash amboy. Both masks were danced together evoking the myth of creation and Kuba historical scenes during public celebrations, initiations and funerals.
The parallel polychromic lines running down from the eyes to the cheeks are said to represent tears.
A close example is in the collection of the MAS, Ethnographic Museum of Antwerp, inv. no. AE.0331, and was acquired from Henri Pareyn in 1920.
Nadya Levy, Antwerp, 1970s