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Dance of the mukyeem (mukenga) mask, Muentshi, Congo (Democratic Republic). slide

Dance of the mukyeem (mukenga) mask, Muentshi, Congo (Democratic Republic). [slide]
Usage Conditions Apply
Elisofon, Eliot
Color slides
Physical Description
slide : col
Restrictions & Rights
Permission to reproduce images from Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives must be obtained in advance. For information on photo services and research appointments, please visit or contact Archives staff at
Local number
E 3 KBA 9 EE 72
Kuba (African people)
Title is provided by EEPA staff based on photographer's notes.
Image indexed by negative number
"Mukyeem, also called mukenga, is morphologically a variant of the moshambwooy mask. It is crowned with a bent-forward representation of an elephant trunk with two tusks. The mukyeem mask does not appear in the immediate vicinity of the king, but rather is seen among the Kete, Ngongo, Ngeende, and also with some other constituent peoples of the Kuba kingdom. It performs at funerary rituals of notables and evokes death. The predominant white color of the cowrie shells serves as a sign of mourning and is associated with the desiccated bones of the ancestors. When the mask performs, red parrot feathers adorn the trunk's end; this is a privilege of the notables."[Cornet J., 1993: Face of the Spirits; Masks from the Zaire Basin. Annals of the Royal Museum of Central Africa, Tervuren.]. This photograph was taken when Eliot Elisofon was on assignement for National Geographic and traveled to Africa from January 19, 1972 to mid April 1972.
Repository Loc.
Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of African Art, Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives, 950 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20560-0708
Data Source
Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives
See more items in
Eliot Elisofon Field photographs 1942-1972
Congo (Democratic Republic)