TITLE: Baka Luma Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Africa
DESCRIPTION: Luma mask of an antelope spirit
CATALOG ID: AFCM008
CEREMONY: Celebration; Hunting
AGE: early 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: pigment; kaolin clay
The Baka people of Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, and Gabon are also known as Bayaka people. They are semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers, formerly known as “pygmies.” They maintain an animistic religion based on an omnipresent forest spirit named Jengi and a supreme god named Komba.
After a successful hunt, the Baka chant songs of thanksgiving to Jengi to the beat of a drum in a ritual called Luma. Some masked dancers in raffia fiber suits represent forest animals, such as this one. One will appear fully covered in a woolly suit of red raffia, with nothing else showing, to represent Jengi. The Baka do not make very extensive use of wooden masks, and so they are rarely seen.