Mbuya village masks are used to entertain a community during non-ritual festivities. Once used during mukanda initiation ceremonies to mark the end of male circumcision rituals, mbuya masquerades are now used to highlight a number of characters and roles in Pende society. There are two main groups of masks used during festivals. The following include some of the characters portrayed during festivities:
Comedic Masks (Mbuya Jia Ilelesa)
Masks of Beauty (Mbuya Jia Ginango)
Others include the Chief (Fumu / Ufumu), the Village Flirt (Gabuku), the Prostitute (Ngobo) and the Witchdoctor (Nganga). One of the many mbuya masks performed at community festivities, is the gambanda 'young woman' mask (which forms part of a collection of female masks known as mbuya ya mukhetu - 'the woman's mask'; called kambanda among the Eastern Pende). Some sources point to gambanda representing the calm, obedient and beautiful wife of the Chief (fumu) while others state that gambanda is instead a representation of the Pende ideal for femininity and beauty and is considered a suitable wife for a high-ranking Pende male.
Common features among must mbuya masks:
Sub-type variations (Gambanda – Young Woman):
Regional variations (Eastern Pende):