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Passport to the Past

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Mask (lipiko) of Makonde Man with Incised Tattoos

ca. 1950-1960
9 3/4 x 7 1/2 x 11 in. (24.8 x 19.1 x 27.9 cm)

Mozambican artist

Makonde; made in Mozambique

Object Type: Woodwork
Medium and Support: Wood, human hair, pigment
Credit Line: Transfer from Education Department
Accession Number: 2006.71
Location: Currently on view
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Makonde people are producing more masks and types of masquerades now than ever before. This living, thriving tradition favors innovation, so styles of mask and dance change continually. Masked dancers perform before enthusiastic audiences for holidays or important occasions in the village.

This mask, from the 1950s or 60s is in the classic style favored by Makonde people today. The style and design of facial tattoos are unique to the Makonde and would have identified this face as belonging to a specific region or tribe. Most Makonde tattooing ended in the 1960s, so only the older generation wears the distinctive marks today. The specificity of the shaved hairline and the scar on the scalp near the left temple indicate that perhaps this mask was a portrait.
[Gallery label text, 2009]

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