Helmet Mask (Hemba)
Wood, pigment, cowrie shells, raffia, glass, nuts, grass, rope, textile ca. 20th century
H. 23 x W. 16 in. approximately
The Suku People of the Southern Democratic Republic of Congo are credited for this helmet mask. The mask includes red and blue for the primary pigment with a full raffia neck with cowrie shells and dried nuts. This mask is used during a boy’s ritual to manhood. The DuSable Musuem collection’s mask features a seated divinity figure on the head. Characterized by protruding almond-shape eyes and painted eyebrows; three vertical paint marks under each eye; each quadrant of face marked by the predominant color blue. The term Hemba refers to the Hemba people, a farming community led by chief Niembo.