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Monkey mask  (so'o)
Date: Early to mid-20th century
Medium: Wood
Dimensions: H x W x D: 23 x 16 x 12.1 cm (9 1/16 x 6 5/16 x 4 3/4 in.)
Credit Line: Museum purchase
Geography: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Object Number: 85-15-16
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Object is not currently on exhibit

This mask is called so'o, meaning "human chimpanzee." It has a human face and a chimpanzee's mouth. To the Hemba, so'o is a frightening, unnatural creature that represents death. The mask appears at the end of a long series of funeral rites to conclude the mourning period. Through a performance that moves from threatening to amusing, the mask helps people make the transition from grief back to their daily routine.

Wood monkey mask with slanted oval eyes, narrow pointed nose and large grinning mouth with serated edge forms at the bottom of the mask.

Mohamed Kaba, 1972

Emile M. Deletaille, Brussels, 1972 to 1985

Artful Animals, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., July 1, 2009-July 25, 2010

Masques du Monde, Société Génerale de Banque, Brussels, June 28-July 31, 1974

Société Génerale de Banque. 1974. Masques du monde. Bruxelles: Société Génerale de Banque, no. 79.

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