DETAIL: Ngaady A Mwaash mask, Kuba culture, Central Africa. Wood, pigment, raffia cloth, cowrie shells, glass beads; approximately 15 inches high. Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren, Belgium. Ngaady A Mwaash was 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 masks representing royal male ancestors, Mashamboy and Bwoon, in a ceremony which reenacts the royal dynastic myth. The mask appears at funerals and boys’ initiations. The lines (tears) and triangles (hearthstones) represent the hardships of birth and death, and the domestic role of women within the culture. Public domain.
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