Embodying the spirit of an ancestor, this African mask-helmet of the Makonde of Tanzania adopts here a bright yellow version trimmed with human hair. The bristles are implanted along grooves representing braids styled backwards.
The ancestors would return masked in order to mark their satisfaction following the initiation. Some of these masks feature wax tattoos or scarifications incised in the wood.
The mouth treated with realism half-opens on an incised dentition, singularity of the Makonde statuary.
Abraded matte patina.
The Makonde of northern Mozambique and southern Tanzania wore helmet masks called lipiko during initiation ceremonies for young people. The Makonde worship an ancestor, which explains the abundance of naturalistic female statuary, in addition to the face masks worn during mapiko dances and ngoma ceremonies that instruct the young people about the demands of marriage and family life. The true identity of the wearer of the mask is only revealed to initiates following a grueling exercise during which they must confront and unveil the mask. The Makonde also produce body masks featuring the female bust.
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