This 'Eluba ya Buhabo of the tunda antelope kind was worn as a forehead mask with the face hidden by a veil of plant fiber and feathers.
The name Buhabo translates to society of responsible
men. The mask has many functions; it prevents foreign families from invading
their territory; it is also an association of sorcerers that share possessions
(including wives) to impose “ethics” of solidarity; the mask is used in initiation
rituals to summon and celebrate spirits who presided over initiation and
other festivities; the mask resembles an antelope called Tundu which conceals the wearer and possibly even makes them magically invisible to escape
in his comprehensive article in the Spring 1972 issue of African Arts Magazine, Daniel Biebuyck notes that "like the
Lega, the Bembe place high social, economic, and ritual value on the hunt."
This is a rare mask and the only other similar masks that we are
aware of is in the Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren, Belgium,
one published in ‘Congo Masks - Masterpieces from Central Africa edited by
Marc Felix.( Actual article written by Pol Pierre Gossiaux), and one in the Fancois Neyt book "Traditional Arts and History of Zaire" on page 306, where he describes this as being an Elanda society mask.
Ex. Leonard Kahan Gallery, New York and Ex. Christopher and Genevieve McConnell collection
There is a crack at the mouth, and wear in the eye areas and horns.
Height: 15" x Width: 7 ¼" x Depth: 7 ½" - on its 6" square base, it stands 22 ¼" tall.