25. Body Mask (Ndimu)

Makonde

Tanzania

H: 49cm

DESCRIPTION

This fine Makonde body mask (ndimu) has been delicately carved from a medium/light wood. The stomach area of the mask features a series of parallel semi-circular  markings, and the surface has been coloured with natural ochre pigments. Referencing traditional body tattooing are lines of arched dot decorations, located above the mask's pointed breasts, which also feature below the breasts in a conical formation.

Female body masks such as these were traditionally involved in Makonde initiation rites. These ‘coming-out’ ceremonies involved male circumcision and doctrination on the secrets of gender, the rules of adult behaviour, sex and the rights and obligations of married life. The accompanying celebrations included feasts, dances and masquerades. The mask was intended to represent a young woman, and would have been worn by a male masked dancer.

Reference

T. Phillips (1999) Africa: The Art of a Continent, p. 175

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CONDITION

Good

Provenance

Ex Private Collection, UK

DATE

Estimated Period: First Half of 20th Century (Or Before)

Dimensions

H: 49cm

PRICE

3400

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