Our page banner is a detail of an early 16th century head of a queen mother from the Kingdom of Benin, Nigeria.
Photo: (Creative Commons) © Bin im Garten
The Pende mask above is a ‘Panya Ngombe’ mask which has a combination of a human and buffalo features. This type of mask comes from the Kasai Pende who live in the east of their territory.
These masks are decorated with incised triangular grids that are often painted with dark and light pigments to create a checkerboard effect.
This ‘Panya Ngombe’ mask would be hung above the door or window of a chief’s dwelling.
The Pende carve several different types of masks that they use to communicate with the spirits during rituals.
The Pende believe that the spirits of their ancestors can positively or negatively influence the quality of their lives.
The Pende are mostly farmers who supplement their diet by hunting and fishing. They live in the southwest area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo around the Loango and Kasai Rivers.