The University of Iowa University of Iowa

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Democratic Republic of the Congo; Kuba artist


Wood, copper, cloth, leather, shells, beads

H. 27.3 cm (10 3/4")

University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art, The Stanley Collection of African Art, X1986.195

The last member of the royal mask trinity is the character bwoom, the commoner who defies the authority of the chief mosh'ambooy  and competes for the favors of ngady a mwaash. The bulging forehead may imitate the heads of the Tshwa pygmies, whom the Bushongo recognize as the original owners of their land (Cornet 1978: 202).

The bwoom can be recognized by its helmet shape, bulging forehead, sheets of copper applied to the face, and particularly by the band of beads, here three beads wide, dividing the face horizontally and covering the eyes. As in the case of the mosh’ambooy (The University of Iowa Museum of Art, The Stanley Collection, X1986.373), the back of the head is covered with a colorful beaded pattern. Over one hundred recognized designs are given names associated with the names of the kings in whose reigns they originated (Cornet 1971: 211).

Professor Christopher D. Roy, 1991

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