back bounded-next cafe calendar-large calendar cart close coat-check collapse donate download elevators expand explore filter grid-view hamburger heart hours join link list-view location mail more next nursing-room phone print programs ramp restrooms right-arrow search share shop thumbs-down thumbs-up tickets up toilet heart-filled zoom Skip to Content

(not entered)

African Art

Search and Share Tools

(not entered)

Artwork Details

Artist/Maker

Bembe Artist, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Date

Late nineteenth–early twentieth century

Medium

Wood and pigments

Accession #

1991.297

Dimensions

16 x 11 1/4 x 11 1/4 inches

Location

On View - Stent Family Wing, Skyway, Gallery 403

Description

Masks like this performed during initiation rituals of the alunga association, a powerful men’s organization charged with educating teenage boys and maintaining law and order. As the young men learned the mysteries of the mask through songs, the mask instructed them, “alunga is not a man, but a thing, something from the bush, something from very remote times, something very awe-inspiring. Never profane its mysteries.” This mask has two pairs of eyes, each painted white to indicate spiritual insight. Alunga associations were banned by the Belgian government in 1947 because their authority represented a challenge to colonial rule.

Credit

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Richman to mark the retirement of Gudmund Vigtel