Linguistically, the Songye form part of the Luba, world, itself part of the Bantu group. Indeed there is a century old inter relation between the Songye and Luba, and they therefore share many cultural traits. Some art forms are part of this, shared heritage, according to the oral tradition the founding chieftains of the first luba kingdom, were of songye origins, and it is the Songye who introduced the idea of social stratification to the Luba and consequently the first luba chieftains are said to be of Songye Ancestry.
The Songye used to live in a forest environment till the end of the first half of the second millennium. Slowly their habitat became more savannah-like. We can still find traces of this former forest habitat in some of the art they produce. For example the costume worn with the Kifwebe mask must be entirely made from products originating in the forest from such as bark, pelts fibers etc. Today the Songye mainly live in the savannah but pockets of forest remain in their territory.
The Songye occupy a very large area in the north of the southeastern quadrant of the republic democratic of Congo.
Due to the vastness of the songye territory, it is obvious that regional stylistic, iconic and typological, exist in the ritual art produced. Some of these are the result of cross influences with their immediate neighbors.
To the North of the Songye territory, live the Sungu, Tetela, the western Kusu. In the northwest we will find a few luba chiefdoms. To the west the Luntu, Luba – kassaï Kete and Binji peoples resides; one can even find pockets of Chokwe people in the southwest of Songye territory. To the south of the Songye we find a variety of luba speacking, polities, the same is true, for eastern frontier where in addition to the eastern kusu, we find Luba, Hemba, Kunda, Lumbu and Buyu people. Judging from their