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Teke - Tsaayi Face mask From The Republic of Congo

The teke, (disk-shaped face mask) comes from the Ogowe region in the Congo It is used to confirm the social and political structure during the Kidumu masquerade dancing ceremonies. Common characteristics of this mask are the geometric motif designs (including the triangle shaped nose see image to the left). The geometric motifs are arranged symmetrically along both vertical and horizontal axis.

The example image featured above was made for the trade and notably has no holes around the edge of the mask, through which fibers are attached to hold the mask to the costume or forehead of the mask wearer.

History of the teke tribe.

Since the French first occupied Congo in 1880 these types of ceremonies were far and few between. During 80 years of colonial rule the people of the Congo had to face an onslaught that is still evident today. The parceling out of African territories to the Colonial government and the ensuing damage to traditional economies including massive displacement of people. This resulted in tribal life and food production systems being wrecked. It was only after the people of Congo achieved independence (1960) that the masking traditions were revived.