Death and Rebirth

By Christopher D. Roy
University of Iowa

Democratic Republic of the Congo; Bushoong artist

Nyata a Masheke (mask)

Wood, vegetable fiber, feathers, horns 

H. 65 cm (25 5/8")

University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art, The Stanley Collection of African Art, X1990.650

Each of these steps may require the use of art:  masks may appear to honor the deceased or to re-enact sacred stories of the encounters between spirits and the ancestors, and figures may be placed on shrines dedicated to the ancestors' memory, receiving sacrifices to assure their blessings or watching over sacred ancestral relics to protect them from evil forces.  The Bushoong mask seen here is called Nyata a Masheke and was used at the funerals of the highest title holders in the royal court.