mpiko (Mask)

About this object

History of use

The Makonde practice masked ritual dances for a number of reasons. The mpiko often portrays the spirit Evil, who is ritually driven from a village. The item may, however, be a trade item only, not used for ritual purposes.

Cultural context

Dance mask.

Physical description

Three dimensional helmet mask with black simulated hair at crown, and a bright yellow painted face in low relief with extensive black painted linear designs that are roughly symmetrical. The eyes and eyebrows are emphasized with black paint, and the mouth is painted red with several thin teeth and a central thicker piece of wood and metal representing the front teeth. There is a blue stone in a metal setting attached to each earlobe.