Democratic Republic of Congo
During the 16th century, the Songye migrated from the Shaba area, which is now the southern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and settled on the left bank of the Lualaba River, on a savannah and forest covered plateau. Divided into numerous sub-groups, the Songye are governed by a central chief, the
, whose role demands that he obey special restrictive laws such as not showing grief, not drinking in public and not shaking hands with men. In addition, local rulers, the
Sultani Ya Muti
, distribute plots of land to their villagers and an influential secret society,
Bwandi Bwa Kifwebe
, counterbalance their power. The Songye tribe is a patriarchal society in which agriculture is central to the economy.
The Songye create impressive sculptures and masks used within their secret societies. They are characterized by powerful features, with the figures covered in paraphernalia. regional variations can be observed owing to the large area occupied by the tribe.
~ links to SONGYE items on
SONGYE Helmet Masks
SONGYE Ancestral Figures/Statues
SONGYE Fetish Figures/Statues
SONGYE Small Scale Figures/Statues
SONGYE Thumb Pianos