Mask (Mbuya)

late 19th–early 20th century

African Art

This mask would have been danced by a man, but its harmonious feminine features suggest that it may be a Gabuku Mbuya, a caricature of an enticing but vain young woman. Mbuya masks are associated with male circumcision rites. Most Mbuya depict a generalized village character (such as a prostitute or an elderly bachelor) or a prominent member of the community (such as a ruler or a palm-wine tapster). It is usually impossible, however, to determine the identity of a Pende mask without seeing it used in performance, as Pende mask forms are very similar but their associated dances are specific to each masquerade type.


Wood, pigment, and fiber


15 × 14 × 9 in. (38.1 × 35.56 × 22.86 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Mr. & Mrs. William B. Jaffe

Accession Number



19th–20th century


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 records is ongoing.



Harry A. Franklin Gallery, Los Angeles; Mr. William B. Jaffe (1904–1972) and Mrs. Evelyn Friede Jaffe (neé Annenberg, later Hall) (1911–2005), New York; given to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., 1969
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

ceremonial objects, masks (costume)

Technical metadata and APIs


Open in Mirador

View IIIF manifest

The International Image Interoperability Framework, or IIIF, is an open standard for delivering high-quality, attributed digital objects online at scale. Visit to learn more

Linked Art

API response for this object

Linked Art is a Community working together to create a shared Model based on Linked Open Data to describe Art.