Wood and paint
Overall: 71.2 cm (28 1/16 in.)
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1972.2
This capital depicts a struggle between the good lion and the evil basilisk, a legendary reptile from myth. While the artist would not have encountered the mythical serpent, it is likely he never saw a real lion either based on its cartoonish appearance in this sculpture.
The closely spaced, painted grooves on the kifwebe mask accentuate the contours of the mask itself. The colors are mixed with sacred substances that activate the mask and help induce the wearer to enter a state of being between human and spirit. The theme of transformation may be inherent in the form of the mask itself, which recalls, in an abstracted way, some of the distinctive traits of the chameleon -- a supreme symbol of transformative power.
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