X2002.33.14 Mask

<< Back


Katoyo reinterpreted as Chikungila (ambiguous ancestor)
Mbunda peoples, Zambia
Late 19th-20th century
Wood, plant fiber, cordage
Fowler Museum at UCLA. X2002.33.14


Lunda elders in northwestern Zambia agreed that this mask was originally made to represent a foreigner but that the division of the mask into halves painted white and red meant that the character had been reinterpreted as Chikungila or Luvwengi. The Chikungila character ”opens its mouth to devour everything, including goats, tables, chairs, and even cars.” At the mukanda camp Chikungila is believed to regurgitate everything, turning it into the food the initiates will eat during their seclusion. The red and white sides illustrate a balance or contrast between the positive (white) and the negative or ominous (red). This is consistent with the nature of ancestral spirits who provide spiritual support if honored, but who may also cause illness and calamity if neglected.

Source: Gallery wall text, Fowler in Focus: Makishi, 2007