The Makonde have two mask types: helmet crests, used principally by the groups in Mozambique, and face masks , prevalent among the Tanzanian Makonde. The anthropomorphic face masks portray particular individuals or occasionally represent sickness. Female masks like this one often have a lip plug, and male masks a beard. This mask is covered with hair, and has simple circular scarification. The mask covered the dancer's head. His disguise was completed by a costume of fabrics, foliage, or feathers, supplemented by various accessories such as fly whisks, dance stuffs, noisemakers, or weapons. The Makonde still hold masquerade dances at the end of initiation ceremonies, when adolescent boys and girls return from their separate bush camps after a period of seclusion. In this context the anthropomorphic masks embody ancestral spirits, whose apparition serves to remind the initiates of their new position in the community and the rights and duties it entails.
Provenance: Raskin Private Collection