Ngaady a Mwaash Mask (MO 63.4416.4)

Tribal Mask

Maker: Kuba peoples (Bushoong)

Place Made: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Date Made: 20th Century

Medium: Wood, pigment, raffia cloth, cowrie shell, glass beads

Dimensions: 15 1/2 x 8 1/2 x 6 inches

Helmet mask made of wood and raffia cloth with a painted face decorated with cowrie shells and glass beads.  This mask, covered with geometric designs typical of Kuba art, portrays Ngaady A Mwaash, the wife of the first Kuba king who was a founding royal female ancestor of the 17th century Bushoong Kuba dynasty.  It performs with two other mask representing royal male ancestors, Mashamboy and Bwoon in a royal ceremony which reenacts the royal dynastic myth. The mask appears at boy's initiation and funeral celebrations, this trilogy of masqueraders define the political system with its social roles.

This gift was presented to President Kennedy through the State Department by the Deputy to the National Assembly of the Republic of the Congo, Fwamba Mukengele on August 2, 1962.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston, MA; accession number MO 63.4416.4.


The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum