Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

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mwaash ambooy mask
  • unknown Kuba maker
  • mwaash ambooy mask, 1900s
  • Where object was made: Zaire (present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo)
  • plant fiber, burlap, cardboard, cowrie shells, raffia, wood, leopard fur?, beading, carving
  • Object Height/Width/Depth: 48 x 45 x 51 cm
    Object Height/Width/Depth: 18 7/8 x 17 11/16 x 20 1/16 in
  • Gift of Jill Zinn
  • Not on display
  • 2007.2918

The helmet style mask has a long curving projection at the top. The mask is covered with woven plant fiber. There is burlap and cardboard inside the mask. The face is covered with spotted cat fur. There is a wooden nose and mouth, a cowrie shell for each eye, and two rows of white beads on each cheek and for each eyebrow. The face is bordered with two rows of cowrie shells on the sides, and a single row of cowrie shells with two bands of blue bead across the top with a yellow circle in the middle. There are two rows of cowries in a "v" at the bottom. Two rectangular "ears" form the front ends of ridge that goes around the head. The ears are decorated with a black diamond and two black chevrons on a white field. The ridge has three knobs along its length, and the top and front edges are decorated with a row of black and white beads. The ridge, top of the mask and long projection are covered with cowrie shells. The projection has a band of medium blue beads with black chevrons and red diamonds at the base and a band of dark blue beads with white diamonds at the end, and a tuft of raffia at the tip. The mask below the ridge is decorated with a typical Kuba pattern of interlocking chevrons and diamonds in black and white. There is a raffia ruff around the base of the mask.