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This female mask was danced for Kifwebe masquerades, which unleash sorcery's menacing power to reinforce the authority of chiefs and elders. Masked male and female dancers are embodiments of supernatural beings from the forest wilderness. Materials and other characteristics of this costume-tree fiber, the horn-like projection and facial striations-suggest a forest antelope's horn and white markings. In contrast to male maskers' fearsome, unrestrained movements, the subdued movements of the female masker express benevolent, mystical power. Female masks activated with sacred white clay express ritual purity, wisdom and fertility.

Details

  • Title: Female Mask
  • Date Created: Late 19th century
  • Physical Dimensions: w723.9 x h1384.3 in
  • Type: Mask
  • Rights: Purchase: William Rockhill Nelson Trust through the George H. and Elizabeth O. Davis Fund, Purchase: William Rockhill Nelson Trust through the George H. and Elizabeth O. Davis Fund
  • Medium: Wood, pigment, fiber, hide, and shell
  • Culture: Songye

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