by Z.S. Strother
Although many societies in the Congo were once renowned for vibrant masquerades and architectural sculpture, these phenomena have only been studied as living traditions among a handful of peoples, most notably the Pende. Building on the extended fieldwork of numerous researchers since the 1950s, this text offers a unique window into the dynamic performance contexts of both masquerade and architecture in Central Africa. As much as possible, it privileges Pende voices as it seeks to understand the interrelationship between ritual practice and aesthetic form. Attentive to history, the text also records how these artistic practices have responded (sometimes unpredictably) to both colonial and post-colonial pressures. Lavish illustrations feature both iconic and hitherto unpublished masterworks, which have been selected to evoke the full range of Pende expression. Visions of Africa is a series devoted to the arts of Africa grouped according to the different populations.