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A View from the Forest



The Kuba of the Democratic Republic of Congo are recognized throughout the world for the beauty and inventiveness of their figure sculptures, decorative arts and surface design traditions. However, only a few scholarly articles have detailed the importance of Kuba masking traditions. A View from the Forest documents, in more than 160 photographs, Southern Kuba masking traditions associated with male initiation and funeral rites. This firsthand, intimate view of male initiation rites and mask making is the result of the author’s own experiences together with 25 young men in a forest initiation camp. The book reflects the passion, commitment and creativity of Southern Kuba men as they reveal the esoteric lore and teach mask-construction skills to the next generation. Belgian colonialism harshly affected the lives of all Congolese. Art-making in the form of masks, costumes, and community-wide performances proved to be a powerful form of resistance.

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