Kongo Pigmented Mask on Custom Stand Congo
The Kongo people created ceremonial face masks, worn by ritual specialists or diviners known as Nganga Diphomba, that displayed serene expressions despite being associated with the term "Ngobudi," signifying something frightening or terror-inducing. The predominant color of white in these masks symbolized the spirits of the dead, and their lifelike faces resembled the heads of Kongo maternity statues.
The term "Ndunga" referred to a masked figure adorned with a costume made of dried banana leaves or touraco feathers, as well as a male society in the coastal region of the ancient Ngoyo kingdom. The Ndunga society served as a type of secret police, responsible for maintaining civil order, ensuring political stability, and pursuing criminals like thieves, sorcerers, and murderers. Bandunga masks were worn to enact the will of ancestors and supernatural forces during rituals, including funeral dances for high-ranking individuals. While the Ndunga society has evolved over time, a playful version of it still exists among the Kongo people.
Approximate Age: 20th Century