African art > Mask > Masque Makonde
Tanzanian Makonde Lipoko Mask (N° 16426)
Incarnating the spirit of an ancestor, this African cephalomorphic Makonde helmet mask borrows a figurative style. The ancestors would return masked to mark their satisfaction following the initiation. Some of these masks have wax tattoos or scarifications incised in the wood. On some of these masks, the implantation of human hair, as in the Tiv, helped to reinforce the realistic character. The thick protruding lips revealing ritually incised teeth remain a singularity unique to Makonde's statuary. Velvet patina, abraded locally.
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The Makonde of northern Mozambique and southern Tanzania wore helmet masks called lipiko during initiation ceremonies for young people. The Makonde venerate an ancestor, which explains the abundance of a naturalistic female statuary. In addition to the face masks worn during the dances mapiko and ceremonies ngoma which educate young people about the demands of marriage and family life. The true identity of the wearer of the mask is revealed only to the initiates following a difficult exercise during which they must confront and reveal the mask. the Makondes also produce body masks featuring the female bust.
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