Photos A Kuba Chief sits in state wearing regalia siginificant of his status – a handwoven raffia pile skirt, elaborate cowrie shell jewellery, and a headdress featuring eagle feathers.Female members of the Royal Court enter the sacred forest through one of nine hanging fiber entrances to pay homage to the queen mother, who died in 2011. Kuba society is matrilineal and the queen mother plays an important supporting role to the king.The women wear special red Kuba cloths seen only during times of mourning. All of the royal family are buried in the sacred forest.The Isyeen Imalu mask emerges from the sacred forest surrounded by elders of the village. The mask’s chameleon-like eyes represent the ability to see the invisible; this mask comes out during royal occasions and at initiation ceremonies.The Mboom mask, with bulging forehead, broad nose and large eyes, represents the son of the god Woot, sent to Earth to establish the Kuba dynasty. The mask dances to welcome members of the royal family and to honour memebrs of the men’s initation society.A fearsome guardian announces the arrival of Prince Kwete by shouting and sounding an iron gong.According to legend, Bongo masks are extremely powerful and have been restricted by the royal court from leaving their locality.The Ngady Mwaash mask represents the wife of Woot, who is also his sister. The vertical lines running down her cheeks symbolize tears, revealing the joy and pain of being a queen mother.The Bongo masks have a great deal of stylistic variation, typically featuring painted designs often in black, red, and yellow.Cut pile Kuba cloth, worn by chiefs or men of high rank indicate their status within Kuba society.Woven Kuba cloth skirts are proudly displayed by men as they dance, swinging their legs wide to show off the fine details of the design.The arrival of Prince Guy Kwete, son of the Kuba king, who, in his father’s absence from the kingdom wears the king’s regalia. The skirt is part of the king’s “bwatch”, or full state dress. The Minister of the Royal Wardrobe is responsible for dressing both the king and the prince for all royal events.Each individual mask presents itself to the prince for approval. The wearer will be asked secret test questions and must answer them accurately to establish his authenticity as the hereditary member of a family eligible to dance the royal mask. If he is unable to answer correctly, the masker will be removed from the eremony and fined.The Mwaash Mbooy mask representing Woot, founder and first ruler of the Kuba Kingdom, dances at the welcoming celebration of Prince Kwete.Wearing his finest ceremonial Kuba cloths, Paul Mikombo Bope, a renowned elder statesman of the royal court and advisor to the king, was one of the original members of the Kuba Court.A chief carries a blackened drinking horn filled with locally made maize alcohol, known as “500 percent”.This elder wears a collection of talismanic necklaces made of coconut discs, seeds and European glass trade beads. His collection is highlighted by a sacred ram’s horn under which hangs his piece de resistance – a white Lego figure!Kuba sorcerers wear necklaces of calabashes filled with magical potions. The sorcerer holds a carved figurine linking him to the powers of the ancestors and providing protection for the village. His carved eyeglasses add an element of intrigue, enhancing his steely glare.Shesh, a Minister of Defense, lights his traditional hand-carved wooden pipe.Sheesh, one of the two powerful Ministers of Defense of the royal Kuba court wears a headdress of black eagle feathers and smaller spotted guinea fowl feathers, indicating his status.A Kuba chief, wearing a headdress of eagle and chicken feathers and cowrie shell necklaces is portrayed in a moment of reflection.