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Inhabiting the southeast of Tanzania and the northeast of Mozambique are about 500,000 Makonde, divided into matrilineal clans, each one comprising several villages. Makonde carvers are prolific producers of masks, statues and decorative objects. The most famous are the lipico masks, which are used to mark a boy’s initiation into adulthood. Lipico is the name that Makonde men give to the masker of their masquerading association, who is brought from the bush into the village for initiation celebrations. The dances are accompanied by an orchestra of drummers. These masks have realistic features and are often decorated with scarification marks. They are carved with light balsa-like wood and are always worn with a cloth. The lip plug suggests that it is intended to represent a woman elder.
Exhibited at the "Fertile, Frightful, Divine"show. New Brunswick, NJ. July 2011
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