Ndungu spirit costume

The feathered and masked costume that Dennett collected represented ‘the king’s policeman’. A frightening presence, the spirit of ndungu had the authority to identify and punish people who had broken the rules of Kongo society.

“No one is supposed to know who he is, but got-up in a hideous double-faced mask, and dress made entirely of dried leaves of the banana or plantain-tree, very bushy and heavy-looking, he occasionally comes among the people armed with a long wooden sword. Everything he touches on his way becomes his property, thus you can imagine the disturbance his visit creates: all is confusion and hurry, as the native vainly attempt to hide their little before his coming.

He is supposed to watch over their morals and punish and offender by crucifixion. Generally he appears on the scene after some irregularity in the fall of rain occurs, as the Nkissist in Cabenda believes that the committal of certain indecencies is punished by the non-appearance of rain in its proper season.”

Taken from Richard E. Dennett, Seven Years Among the Fjort, 1887.
Accession Loan No.
Simple Name
mask and costume
Full Name
ndungu mask and costume
Common Name
Ndungu spirit costume
Production Country
Congo, Republic of the
vegetable fibre; wood; pigment; hornbill feathers
Collection Class
Religion and magic
Collection Contintent
Collection Area Region
Production County
Lower River Congo
Production Area Region
Central Africa
Production Continent
Production Year High
Cultural Group
Function Name
ceremonial regalia
Created At
2016-10-13 15:46:18
Updated At
2018-03-14 08:56:39

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