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Soko Mutu mask - HEMBA (BAHEMBA)

10” long x 6” wide x 4” deep

With old, shiny, patina. A piece of magnificent quality. In excellent condition, no damage.


Also called Passport Mask. Soko Mutu masks represent a composite chimpanzee-human creature which embodies the conflict between the unpredictability of the wilderness and the laws of civilization and the community. The Hemba dance the soko mutu mask at funerals to symbolize the presence of death in the form of a chimpanzee spirit. Recently, some Hemba have begun calling the mask misi gwa so’o (chimpanzee spirit).

Soko Mutu mask - HEMBA (BAHEMBA)

$275.00 Regular Price
$206.25Sale Price

    “Near the end of the 16th century, the Hemba began their migration from an area to the northeast, probably modern-day Tanzania. In the 1800s under the direction of Niembo and his son, Myhiya, the Hemba moved into their current location along the Congo River. The Luba unsuccessfully tried to incorporate the Southern Hemba into their growing kingdom. The Luba did succeed, however, in greatly influencing the Hemba in numerous ways, including artistic styles. In the late 19th century, the Hemba were subjugated to raids by Arab slave traders and again by Belgian forces during colonization.


    The Hemba are primarily subsistence agriculturalists whose main staples include manioc, maize, peanuts, and yams. These crops are supplemented by small scale hunting and fishing done mostly by the men. Some alluvial copper is panned from the river and sold to outside markets.


    Generally, the Hemba acknowledge chiefs who are heads of extended landholding families as their political leaders. Genealogy is recognized both matrilineally and patrilinearly, but land chiefs inherit their positions through their maternal line.


    The Hemba recognize Vidiye Mukulu (a creator god) and Shimugabo (a supreme being). Worship is primarily carried out through sacrifices and offerings to ancestor shrines. Diviners play an important role in society, often requiring that certain ancestors be appeased in order to establish balance in the community.”

    Hemba - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art (

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