Ka-Bemba [the grandfather]

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Name given by the Temne to the masked figure who leads male initiands from the village to the bush for their initiation and brings them back to the village at the conclusion of the initiation. By extension the name is also applied to the mask he wears. Ka-Bemba masks vary a great deal, but often have a prominent or overhanging forehead above a straight nose, the eyes and mouth holes being pierced through the flat plane of the face. The surface of the mask is sometimes daubed with paint, giving it a mottled appearance. Some ka-Bemba masks are horned and some are adorned with metal, often brass, strip ornament. The mask is worn with undyed raffia.

  • F.J.Lamp, 'Frogs into princes: the Temne Rabai initiation', African Arts, 1978, XI, 2, 38-49.