REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire)
YEAR PRINTED: 1977
VALUE: 0.10 zaire

This stamp was issued by the government of Zaire, now called the Democratic Republic of Congo, in 1977 as one of a set of six celebrating the dance masks of the region. This stamp depicts an adult initiation mask of the Suku people.

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REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire)
YEAR PRINTED: 1977
VALUE: 0.07 zaire

This stamp was issued by the government of Zaire, now called the Democratic Republic of Congo, in 1977 as one of a set of six celebrating the dance masks of the region. This stamp depicts a mwana pwo mask of the Chokwe people.

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REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire)
YEAR PRINTED: 1977
VALUE: 0.05 zaire

This stamp was issued by the government of Zaire, now called the Democratic Republic of Congo, in 1977 as one of a set of six celebrating the dance masks of the region. This stamp depicts a mwana pwo mask of the Chokwe people.

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REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Democratic Republic of Congo (Belgian Congo)
YEAR PRINTED: 1948
VALUE: 100 francs

This stamp was issued by the Belgian colonial government in Congo in 1948. It depicts the bwoom mask of the Kuba people, used during funeral ceremonies.

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REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Democratic Republic of Congo (Belgian Congo)
YEAR PRINTED: 1948
VALUE: 50 francs

This stamp was issued by the Belgian colonial government in Congo in 1948. It depicts the pwoom itok mask of the Kuba people, used during adult initiation rituals for boys.

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REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Democratic Republic of Congo (Belgian Congo)
YEAR PRINTED: 1948
VALUE: 20 francs

This stamp was issued by the Belgian colonial government in Congo in 1948. It depicts the bwoom mask of the Kuba people, used during funeral ceremonies.

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REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Democratic Republic of Congo (Belgian Congo)
YEAR PRINTED: 1948
VALUE: 10 francs

This stamp was issued by the Belgian colonial government in Congo in 1948. It depicts the pwoom itok mask of the Kuba people, used during adult initiation rituals for boys.

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TITLE: Chokwe Mwana Pwo
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Congo, Dem. Rep. of
ETHNICITY: Chokwe
DESCRIPTION: Mwana Pwo (Young Woman) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Entertainment; Spirit Invocation
AGE: ca. late 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: cotton netting

The populous Chokwe people of Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Zambia are known as some of the most skilled wood carvers in Africa. They resisted colonization far longer than most peoples of the region, despite repeated incursions by the Portuguese and other Europeans.

The Chokwe use masks in many contexts. The mwana pwo (young woman) mask invokes the spirit of a female ancestor in her most beautiful youth. The dark skin, decorative forehead and cheek scars, high forehead, narrow nose, and filed teeth represent the idealized Chokwe female. The mwana pwo is mostly danced for purposes for entertainment at festivals, but it is thought to increase the fertility of the women who attend.

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TITLE: Pende Mbuya Jia Muketu
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Democratic Republic of the Congo
ETHNICITY: Pende
DESCRIPTION: Mbuya Jia Muketu (Young Woman’s) Mask
MAKER: Unknown maker in Bandundu
CEREMONY: Agriculture; Entertainment; Healing; Protection/Purification
AGE: 1950s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: bark cloth; plant fiber; pigment

The Pende people have many different kinds of masks. This mask belongs to a group called mbuya jia muketu among the central Pende, and gambanda among the eastern Pende. Mbuya masks are usually made of wood, like this one. This type represents the ideal beauty of a young female Pende, whose appearance and disposition qualify her to marry a high-ranking Pende male. Such masks are typically performed with restrained movements. Mbuya jia muketu masks form an important component of public entertainments during sowing and harvest celebrations, but they may also be danced to pray to ancestors to heal a sick chief or to protect or cure the village during epidemics.

This mask was field collected in Bandundu in the 1950s, probably before being used significantly.

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TITLE: Kuba Pwoom Itok
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Democratic Republic of Congo
ETHNICITY: Kuba
DESCRIPTION: Pwoom Itok Mask
MAKER: Unknown maker in the Kasai River region
CEREMONY: Adult Initiation; Status
AGE: 1950s-1960s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: natural pigments

The Kuba people inhabit the area south of the Kasai River.  Although the Kuba have some two dozen mask types, those still in use today are mostly the three royal masks, whose use is reserved to those given permission by the quasi-divine king (nyimi). These are danced mainly as a form of entertainment reinforcing the status of the royalty and at chiefly funerals.  The adult initiation (mukanda) masks are now rarely used in Kuba society.

What the pwoom itok mask represents remains a matter of some speculation, but it may have originally meant to depict a wise elder. The mask is used at the adult initiation rituals of boys. It would be worn with a cane, cloth, and feather headdress, and a cloth suit covered in cowrie shells to indicate high rank.

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