From our private collection, on offer is this stunning body mask from the Makonde peoples of Tanzania. Where it is not unusual to come across their pregnant body masks, the full body masks -- adding face, neck, & upper thighs to the torso -- are far more uncommon. Worn by male dancers during ritual ceremonies to promote fertility, the wearers assume a female personna, honoring the important role women play within the Makonde community.
With its exaggerated features, the pregnant belly of this body mask is highlighted by raised, pigmented scarifications. Accented by cowrie shells, colorful beads form earrings & necklace. Framing the figure's waist, more beads are attached to a loincloth of woven fabric that has been decorated with cowrie shells. The upper lip of the figure bears a lip-plug, signifying a female spirit is represented by the mask. Strong facial features. Attachment holes perforate the outer rim of the body mask.
Overall condition: good; wear & tear, scrapes & abrasions, chips, & dry age-cracks; evidence of old insect damage (arrested); old chip to the figure's right nipple; indigenous repair to section of back rim of figure's right leg. An exciting sculptural mask that would serve as a centerpiece in any serious collection! Magnificent display!