The African collection features an example from each of the three Kuba royal masks: the mwaashmboy, ngaady a mwaash, and the bwoom masks. These masks featuring siblings would have been performed together as a part of telling the story of the creation of the Kuba kingdom in central Democratic Republic of the Congo. The mwaashmboy represents the son of the god who came to earth to start the kingdom. Ngaady a mwaash represents his sister (and wife) and is the epitome of femininity and motherhood. Their brother bwoom creates conflict by trying to win his sister’s love and overthrow his brother. Because of the prosperity of the Kuba kingdom and the kingdom’s dedication to artisanship the masks, dress and ornament are beautifully decorated and excellent examples of fine Central African artwork.
Stephen E. Nash, PhD
Senior Curator of Archaeology and Director of Anthropology
Dominique Alhambra, MA
Anthropology Collections Manager and NAGPRA Coordinator