Photographs © Hamill Gallery
Male Bukishi associations, clouded in secrecy, yielded political and mystical power revealed through their masks, known as Kifwebe (singular) and Bifwebe (plural). Female masks, primarily white, are restrained and elegant with striated surfaces. Their function was to awaken and honor benevolent spirits.
Male masks are known for their distinctive exaggerated forms. Aggressively
formed with bulging eyes, projecting mouths and powerful crests, the masks
of elders embody the greatest potential and strength. The dynamic forms
symbolize the level of power, or grade of the masked figure. Used for social
control, political action, or the solicitation of contributions and protection,
they were danced at important funerals, visits and investitures.
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