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Pende/Kwese mask, Democratic Republic of the Congo
wood, pigment, cloth, plant fiber
8" tall x 7" wide (wooden part of the mask). 18" tall including raffia and cloth.
In the catalog "Pende", Brussels: Philippe and Lisa Laeremans, 2009" and example of a mask similar to this one was published as being from a
Pende subgroup Kwilu. The indigenous name of the mask was given as Kambanda. A comment was made on the mask recorded in the
Yale-Van Rijn Archive of African Art (Yale archive 0109630~01) that it was most likely Kwese.
Kambanda masks among the Pende are also referred to as Mbuya ya Mukhetu, "the mask of the woman". This particular mask has the hooded,
or what is referred to as "bedroom eyes" found on some Pende masks, but what is very different about this mask is the realistic nature of it. The
carver definitely managed to portray true beauty and a wonderful somber expression in this mask, unlike any other that I have personally come
across from the Pende or Kwese.
The gaze with eyes half closed like this is referred to as zanze. The zanze gaze has a very seductive power. In the book "Pende" by Z. S.
Strother it is written "The hooded eyes of a woman weaken a man. Everything that she asks of you, you do without speaking, you give to her."
"Zanze is a genuinely active posture because it is rooted in an act of generosity: I will allow you to look at me. In contrast, "open eyes" betray an
inability to discipline oneself. Generosity is the highest of Pende virtues and part of what makes zanze so irresistible is that it puts the viewer at
This is true as I have this mask displayed in my television room where I have a good view of it from any point in the room and I often find myself
just sitting there staring at it. Truly a beauty.