Art and Centralized Power
By Mary Nooter Roberts
University of California, Los Angeles
Masquerade is another medium through which rulers dramatize and valorize ideological links with the founding ancestors of kingship. Kuba, a confederation of ethnic groups in south central Democratic Republic of the Congo, have masking traditions that pertain both to royalty and to mythology. A spectacular beaded and feathered mask represents the central character of the sacred charter, who is both Woot (founder of the Kuba kingdom) and Moshambwooy (creator of humankind). The mask depicts an old man with a white beard, to evoke the wisdom and age of the most ancient hero.