of the ordinary and outside the
sphere of everyday life. It transcends
still integrating elements of the
natural and animal worlds.
Once again, we must fi nd a
different perspective here. The
rational approach we are so
often inclined to take attempts
to explain the meanings of
things by encasing them in an
equation that is as unequivocal
as possible, but a symbolic
approach enlarges the fi eld of
reference to the greatest extent
possible while still integrating
a given object into a system of
ramifi cations of meanings that
must remain coherent. Here the
symbolic effi cacy results precisely
from this widening of the fi eld of
Divination is part of the
constant struggle against evil
and against everything that is
destructive on both personal and
communal levels. This struggle is what imparts its
dynamic into the entire Komo ritual, and it fi nds
its most expressive synthesis in the play of colors.
Black, the most hidden color, is associated
with the destructive forces that affect life.
OF THE CONGO
FIG. 21 (above): Mask.
Komo, DR Congo.
Wood, pigments. H: 30 cm.
Photo: Bernard De Keyser.
who could become caught up
Despite this, and although the
analogy is corroborated by an
identical sequence in the circumcision
ritual from which the initiation
to divination rituals borrow
many elements,7 the leading
members of the ƃabánkunda apparently
had diffi culty confi rming
this interpretation. However,
they could not offer any other explanation.
They were more of the
opinion that there was no reason
to be searching for any particular
signifi cance in it. As we know,
symbolic exegesis often lags behind
analysis, and this may be the
case here. On the other hand, if
we are to take the remarks of the
ƃabánkunda leadership seriously,
we are inclined to believe that
there is more to all this.
When we focus only on what
happens during the dance, we
risk failing to consider the masks
themselves, which are the principal elements of the
presentation. Their rigid traits—the hollow gaze
and the gaping mouth—seen in the slow movement
of the dance, lend the whole event a hieratic character,
making divination appear to be something out
the human realm while
FIG. 22 (left): Map of the
Komo region, DR Congo.
© Tribal Art magazine.
FIG. 23 (facing page, left):
Henri Kerels (1896–1956),
La danse tribale des sorciers,
Oil on canvas. 62 x 50 cm.
Photo © Alain Weill, all rights reserved
(not listed with ADAGP).
FIG. 24 (facing page, right):
Detail of a Komo mask,