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 pumbu (also called phumbu in some sources) 'executioner' mask. The Central Pende pumbu represents an ngunza; someone that has drawn human blood (this can include a soldier, circumciser, or a hunter that has killed a ferocious animal like a lion or leopard).
NOTE: The Eastern Pende also have a 'twin' mask called pumbu that has a similar history in use but very different distinguishing features.
Common features among must mbuya masks:
Sub-type variations (Pumbu – Executioner):