Showcasing the art and ritual of the African and African-diaspora religions

Suku helmet mask

Catalog Number: E007


65.0 x 29.0 x 21.0 cm


25.5 x 11.5 x 8.3 in


Transatlantic Family of Religion: Nkisi
Country of Origin: Democratic Republic of Congo
Materials: Wood
Usage: Ritual (used)
Detailed Description of Significance:

This mask was known as a Hemba among the Suku people of what is now the southwestern Democratic Republic of the Congo. The mask’s face represented an esteemed ancestor, such as an elder or lineage head. The features of the mask—white face, downcast eyes, etc.—represent an idealized version of the deceased, whose powers can help or harm the community. The blue streaks are tears. The bright colors and the four-legged animal surmounting the helmet mask are typical of the style. The raffia around the mask is attached through holes in the base.