Helmet Mask (Lipiko)

A work made of wood, human hair, and pigment.

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  • A work made of wood, human hair, and pigment.

Date:

Possibly early/mid–20th century

Artist:

Diteka (active early to mid-20th century)
Makonde
Northern Mozambique or southern Tanzania
Eastern and Southern Africa

About this artwork

Incarnating ancestral spirits who temporarily return among their living descendants on earth, helmet masks appear in dances that celebrate the conclusion of initiation rituals of Makonde adolescent boys and girls. The dark brown color of this example suggests that it represents a male character. Real human hair has been inserted in irregular patterns on the skull in imitation of a once-fashionable coiffure. Other lifelike characteristics include the angular scarification marks and the row of chipped teeth. The proper name Diteka, inscribed on the mask’s cheek, signals that this is the creation of an inventive artist who was fully aware of his talent and who probably enjoyed some fame in his community.

On View

Arts of Africa, Gallery 137

Artists

Makonde (Culture) , Diteka

Title

Helmet Mask (Lipiko)

Places

Mozambique (Object made in), Africa (Object made in)

Date

1900-1950

Medium

Wood, human hair, and pigment

Inscriptions

Diteka (left side of head)

Dimensions

H. 26 cm (10 1/4 in.)

Credit Line

Through prior bequest of Florene May Schoenborn

Reference Number

2017.106

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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