Our Makonde helmet masks were hand carved by the Makonde artisans in Tanzania in the early 20th Century. Makonde masks represent ancestral spirits who temporarily return to earth to appear in dances that celebrate the conclusion of the initiation rituals of adolescent boys and girls.
The Makonde tribe come from a minority ethnic group settled in southern Tanzania and northeastern Mozambique. The Makonde came to the region in the eighteenth and nineteenth century seeking refuge from the slave trade and they have continued to experience a great deal of cultural transformation and change over the past century.
We have owned this helmet mask since 1987 right before we came to the United States. The mask is characterized by the realistic imitation of incised angular facial scarification marks, lip plug (ndonya) while its dark brown surface color suggests it represents a male character. Also striking are the carved renderings of chipped teeth and the insertion of real human hair in asymmetrical patterns on the mask’s skull.
This is a Luangisa exclusive.
Measures: Mask measures 10 inches high. Includes custom wood and metal stand, total height 17 inches.