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The Kuba Kingdom: Bwoom Helmet Mask

The Bwoom, one of the three royal masks, holds a significant place in the cultural heritage of the Kuba people residing in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with its origins dating back to the seventeenth century. This ancient mask is a central figure in various ceremonial events, embodying distinct characteristics.

During boys' initiations, the Bwoom symbolizes the nature spirit Ngeesh. As part of the royal mask trio, it personifies a defiant character engaged in a power struggle with his brother Woot, vying for control and the possession of Ngaady aMwaash, his wife and sister. The Bwoom is not only a symbol of opposition within the royal hierarchy but is also associated with the common man, reflecting a rebellious spirit against the established aristocratic order.

In his role as an insurgent challenging the throne and its system, the Bwoom masquerader exhibits a proud and aggressive style of dancing, expressing the rebellious essence inherent in the character. According to legends surrounding the origin of the Bwoom, the distinctive features of the mask, including its bulging forehead, are crafted to imitate the heads of pygmies. This colorful trio of characters comprises the recognized pantheon of royal helmet masks, which are eagerly sought after by collectors and museums.

Ngaady a Mwaash Mask


Bwoom Mask


Moshambwooy Mask


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