This wood carved mask was created in the Democratic Republic of Congo early in the 20th century. It is an example of the work of the Kwele people, a tribal group in the Republic of Congo known for their ceremonial masks. This creative mask features rabbit-like ears, slitted almond-shaped eyes and a heart-shaped face within an outer diamond shape - all typical features of this mask.
This mask is known as "ekuk" or "things of the forest" a genre that that Metropolitan Museum of Art Collections describes as symbolizing an intermediary between the forest and the village. The use of white paint as seen on the ears symbolizes light and clarity to fight off witchcraft. Masks like this are worn during festivities called Beete, which take place during times of community crisis (ie. war or famine) to ward off evil forces and strengthen community.
This mask along with other objects were collected by the donor while a missionary in the Belgian Congo, from 1922-1925.