TITLE: Pende Giphogo (Kipoko) Mask
TYPE: helmet mask
GENERAL REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Democratic Republic of the Congo
ETHNICITY: Eastern Pende
DESCRIPTION: Giphogo (Kipoko) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Mukanda Ritual
FUNCTION: Adult Initiation; Protection; Purification; Social Control; Spirit Invocation; Status
AGE: ca. 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: cloth; string; pigment

The Pende people have many different kinds of masks they wear, especially at adult initiation rituals and funerals. The word giphogo (or kipoko) means “sword wielder” and is a symbol of power among the Eastern Pende. The mask is kept in the chief’s home, and only chiefs are allowed to authorize dance with this type of mask on the occasion of initiations and rituals of the ancestor cult of the Eastern Pende. It represent the village chief as intermediary between the living and the dead, and its uses include protection from evil spirits; prayers or thanks for successful harvests and tribal fertility; to identify and punish sorcerers; and adult initiation during mukanda rituals. As he dances, the kipoko dancer makes semicircular kicks to protect the village against evil spirits or sorcerers and to purify their illnesses.

The masquerader carries one or two flywhisks made of animal hair, which are used to mimic agricultural work or to purify the village grounds.

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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: Pende Mbangu
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Democratic Republic of the Congo
ETHNICITY: Central Pende
DESCRIPTION: Mbangu Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Adult Initiation
AGE: ca. 1970s-1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: wicker; plant fiber; cotton fabric; kaolin clay; pigment

The Pende people have many different kinds of masks they wear, especially at adult initiation rituals and funerals. The mbangu is one such mask.  It represents a hunter struck with disease in the form of facial palsy, caused by the curse of an envious sorcerer. The grossly distorted face is matched by a hunchbacked costume with an arrow stuck in it (sorcerers are believed to shoot their curses like arrows). Under his costume, the dancer wears wooden bells of the kind put on hunting dogs. The mask is characteristically half white and half black, suggesting that the sorcery caused the hunter to fall into a fire and scorch his face. The purpose of this mask is to teach community morality by showing the evil effects of sorcery. As the mbangu dances, singers chant a song about how he was struck with sorcery and the village is unable to help him.

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