Lele Mask

The Lele/ Bashilele/ Usilele people, leave in the west edge of the Kasai-Occidental Province, west of the Kasai River, north of the Pende.
In Ilebo and Tshikapa territories; the extreme east of the Bandundu Province, in Idiofa and Gungu territories of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Lele masks are rare, and little is known about their function. It is said that “the Lele do not make masks”.

It is not certain how the mask was used. It may have been worn in dances for the funerary rites of a chief or served as one of three masks used in annual reenactments of the founding of the Lele people.

It is difficult to decipher the Lele’s ritual artworks. Typical however, are shield-shaped, flat masks regarded as much less aesthetical than their Kuba neighbours.

Nevertheless, this rare, at least, 60-year-old piece, contains an emotional charge which makes it remarquable.

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