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Ikomba Mask

Makonde peoples

Tanzania

Ikomba Mask, early-mid -20th century

  • On View

Wood, human hair, beeswax, natural pigments

Dimensions: 9 1/4 in. (23.5 cm)

Museum purchase with funds from the Collection Endowment, 2018.72

Known as ikomba, and used in masked performances among the Makonde, thisfacemask is carved of a lightweight single piece of wood, which is realisticallyembellished with human hair and features a carved lip plug. It is believed thatMakonde ancestors return masked in order to express their joy at thesuccessful achievement of initiation. Their presence is proof of the tightbonds that exist between the living and the dead. Some are simple inform, with static concave planes; others display an organically sensedrounded style.

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