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Face to Face: Yombe Mask

Posted on by tamsp

The exhibition “Face to Face” engages you with nine extraordinary individuals from the permanent collection of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. To create this Art Remix, spaces in the museum that encourage connection and interaction, we have transformed Gallery 240 into a multicultural crossroads, where personalities usually separated in the MIA galleries according to geography, time period, or collection area, come together to inspire new ways of looking and thinking.

Yombe People
Democratic Republic of Congo
Mask, late 19th century
Wood, pigment, kaolin
Gift of Bob Ulrich, Darwin Reedy, and the Regis Foundation 99.165

Who am I?
I am the spirit of a deceased female ancestor. My striking headdress,
darkened with pigment, and my filed upper teeth indicate that I was
a high-ranking member of Yombe society in a part of Africa now
known as the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Who made me?
An accomplished Yombe carver who was likely associated with a
workshop that produced objects for the local elite as well as for
neighboring communities.

Why?
When this mask representing me was worn by a male dancer during
ritual ceremonies, I would appear from the afterworld and honor
those present. I brought fertility, appeasement, and well-being to the
living. The mask’s costume, made of fiber, leaves, or feathers, would
include some items that allowed the onlookers to identify me.

View all works from the exhibition “Face to Face.”

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