African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Makonde mask
Makonde Lipoko mask (N° 19983)
Incarnating the spirit of an ancestor, this African cephalomorphic mask of the Makonde borrows a figurative style. The ancestors would come back masked in order to mark their satisfaction following the initiation. Some of these masks have wax tattoos or scarifications incised into the wood. On some of these masks, the implantation of human hair, as with the Tiv, contributed to reinforcing the realistic character.
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Grainy patina, locally abraded
The Makonde of northern Mozambique and southern Tanzania wore helmet masks called lipiko during initiation ceremonies for young men. The Makonde worship an ancestor , which explains the abundance of naturalistic female statuary, in addition to the facial masks worn during mapiko dances and ngoma ceremonies that instruct youth about the requirements of marriage and family life. The true identity of the mask wearer is revealed only to the initiates following a grueling exercise in which they must confront and unveil the mask. The Makonde also produce body masks featuring the female bust.
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