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Lele Helmet Mask

  • Lele Tribe Helmet Mask
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Item 648
12.00 LBS
Maximum Purchase:
1 unit(s)

Product Description

This special section features items that we are particularly proud of. They are all museum grade quality and will be of interest to the most discriminating of buyers.

Various characteristics of this helmet styled mask would lend one to think that it was crafted by the Kuba when in fact it is a creation of the Lele people. Originally the Lele among others, were part of the Kuba kingdom that was founded by the Bushoong people in the 16th century. Today the 250,000 members of the Kuba kingdom has subdivided into eighteen self sustaining tribes including the Bushoong, Ngeende, Kete, Lele, Binji, Dengese, Mbuun and Wongo. Each tribe pays annual tribute to the Nyim, the king of the Bushoong. The 30,000 or so Kuba sub group called the Lele occupy the western region of the Kuba kingdom. Not much is really known about their tribal organization and spiritual practices. They do sustain themselves by hunting and by engaging in agricultural endeavors. The Lele produce an assortment of utilitarian objects associated with daily living. To compliment this they have a small array of specially designed prestigious masks reserved for important occasions. Most of their important prestigious artworks such as the offering here on display, has been heavily influenced by other Kuba people. Lele mask of this type are worn during the annual founding celebration. These wooden masks are basically uniform in design with a flat, thin tapering shape. They have a signature wide forehead, arched eyebrows, narrow slit eye frames, triangular nose, and a small mouth. These attributes rarely falter. The main creative endeavor is clearly apparent in the elaborate headdress that encases the mask. The basic configuration is reminiscent of the Kuba Mwaash elephant mask. Borrowing from the Kuba, the use and placement of the dozens and dozens of cowry shells and the beaded geometrical patterns on the back, protruding sides, forehead band and extended top band ring. The craftsmanship that went into this mask has been executed with an absolute concise perfection. The design and pattern arrangements are flawless. From the tip of the feathered top to the two, side, cowry shell clusters to the black and white hand strung micro beaded motifs to the cowry shelled covered fabric base this selection is museum quality and an investment that will appreciate grandly over the years.

Please click photo for enlargement!


Dimensions: 17 inches tall not including top feathering x 13 inches across x 15 iches deep. 

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