Lot: 55

Shield-shaped panel "kalengula" with "kifwebe" mask

D. R. Congo, Songe / Luba

Provenance Size Hammer price
Old Belgian Colonial Collection
Ana Ricart, Barcelona, Spain
David Serra, Barcelona, Spain
Robert Lewitzki, Celle, Germany
H: 15 inch 7500 EUR

wood, colour pigments, old inscription "BN...825r" and handwritten inventory no. "1457", base

In his treatise on Songe sculpture, Mestach reports on a panel with a carved "kifwebe" mask from the Kabalo region in the Kinshasa museum. It is designated as the guardian of the mask house ("kiobo") and bears the
inscription "kalengula" - "mask that does not dance".

Usually referred to as "kalengula", the name "ngabo" ("gabo") is sometimes given for the shield-shaped panels. Maurer reports that they were used in various ceremonies and often appeared in traditional dances of the "bwadi ka bifwebe" society. According to Barbier & Benitez-Johannot, they were also awarded to foreign tribal chiefs as a symbol of political and military alliances.

The mask panels show a wide variety of appearances, small-formatted, like the present specimen, or large (up to 95 cm high) and thereby board-like flat (cf. Mestach, fig. 14) or rather shield-shaped. There are also round plates bearing small "kifwebe" masks.

The meaning of the mask panels in their various manifestations has not been clarified to this day. In any case, the carved small "kifwebe" mask indicates a spiritual function, for these masks embody supernatural powers that are invoked to ward off threats to the community.


Certificate of Authenticity, David Serra, Barcelona, May 2012
Mestach, Jean Willy, Songye Studien, München 1985, p. 63 Maurer, Evan, The Intelligence of Forms, Minneapolis 1991, p. 63, ill. 32 Barbier, Jean Paul, Benitez-Johannot, P., "Shields", Munich, London, New York 2000, p. 88 f.
Expo cat.: "BRUNEAF, Brussels Non European Art Fair XXII", Brussels, 2012, p.123 (adv. David Serra)
Exhibited:

Brussels, Belgium: "BRUNEAF, Brussels Non European Art Fair XXII", 6 - 10 June 2012

ADHRC: 0133674