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African Art
Artist: François Musau, 1920- ?
Artist: Christophore Mabila, died 1967

Helmet Mask (Murume Ankalab or Mzanz a Muanga)


Wood, pigment, and fiber

37 1/4 × 11 5/8 in. (94.6 × 29.5 cm)
Charles B. Benenson, B.A. 1933, Collection
This bell-shaped mask was originally part of a set of five masking characters that represented a family. This conical mask was the father or chief of the village leading the group; the others, of a completely different shape, were the mother and three children. The group was created by two artists based on earlier models that had last been performed in 1933 and have since perished. Until that time, these kinds of masks appeared only when twins were born to guarantee their well-being. This mask and its set were carved in 1952 to celebrate the installation of an abbot in Ine Mzanz, and the mask was performed again in 1959 on the occasion of the founding of a Catholic mission in the area. It is therefore also a testament to the ways in which masking traditions are kept alive while their purposes change.
Made in Ine Mzanz, Southern Kete region, Democratic Republic of the Congo
On view
20th century

Daniel Hourde, Paris: unknown date-May 1988
Charles B. Benenson Collection, donated to Yale University Art Gallery in 2004


R. Ceyssens, “Les Masques en bois de kete du Sud, region du Kasai occidental, Republique Zaire,” Africa-Tervuren (1974): fig. 4a.

Susan Vogel and Jerry L. Thompson, Closeup: Lessons in the Art of Seeing African Sculpture from an American Collection and the Horstmann Collection, exh. cat. (New York: The Center for African Art, 1990), 175, fig. 106.

“Acquisitions, July 1, 2005–June 30, 2006,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2006): 222.

Frederick John Lamp, Amanda Maples, and Laura M. Smalligan, Accumulating Histories: African Art from the Charles B. Benenson Collection at the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2012), 229, ill.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.