Pende fiber and wood masks are worn by adults during initiation rites, funerals, ceremonies associated with leadership and other important public gatherings. Fiber masquerades such as this minganji mask and costume consist of a knotted fiber mask, body suit and raffia fringe skirt, bracelets and anklets that totally cover the body. The head coverings take a variety of hooded and disk forms but tend to feature tubular eyes that suggest an all-seeing quality.
This mask was photographed and collected by LIFE magazine photographer Eliot Elisofon in 1951 in Gungu.
Knotted fiber cylindrical mask with tubular eyes and raffia neck ruff with knotted fiber shirt, pants and raffia skirt.
Eliot Elisofon, New York, collected in Gungu, 1951 to 1973
Africa ReViewed: The Photographic Legacy of Eliot Elisofon, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., August 19, 2013-December 14, 2014