Makonde Body Mask

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Makonde Body Mask

120.00

The MaKonde people of southeastern Tanzania.  These ceremonies involve dancing, spinning and twisting on high stilts while wearing traditional facial and body masks and costuming to hide their true identity. One of the most important rituals is the initiation cycle. For a period of six months both boys and girls are placed into seclusion where they are taught the rules of adult behavior, sex and the rights and obligations of marriage. The coming out ceremonies at the end of the initiation rites include feasting, dancing and the masquerade of the “Midimu” spirit maskers. The female body mask is part of a special Midimu masker called the “Amwalindembo.” This special body mask, carved from wood with breasts and swollen stomach and adorned with MaKonde scarification bars which are symbols of tribal pride and beauty. The body mask along with a matching female face mask is worn by a male dancer. He performs a mesmerizing dance that dramatizes the agonies of childbirth. These smaller masks are used today during village celebrations. Makonde are almost the only ethnicity in East Africa to create fairly naturalistic sculptures – primarily maternity figures, which are intended to ensure the fertility of the fields and women.

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Male Makonde dancers, taking the role of a woman in a ceremonial ritual would, in addition to a helmet mask, wear a female body mask. Carved thin, painted, tied onto the torso and combined with a mimicry of female movements the bodymasks created an effective illusion