rounded head with thin coat of dark slip; friendly features with eyes mostly open, broad nose, wide open, smiling mouth, and prominent chin; eyebrows and chin adorned with human hair attached with wax; holes around base of neck

Mask, 1960s

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“Open your ears!” ("shitengamatu") is the phrase the Makonde use to describe this clay mask. Created by a woman for an all-female dance group, it’s one of the rare types of African masks both made and worn by women. Eyebrows and a beard of human hair make it appear more realistic, and indeed it has large, open ears. The command to open them was aimed at young women who had finished their coming-of-age rituals and were about to re-enter society, which is when the mask was danced. Listen to the elder women, they were told, and use their guidance and advice to navigate the new world of adulthood.

Details
Title
Mask
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2016.73
Curator Approved

This record has been reviewed by our curatorial staff but may be incomplete. These records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@artsmia.org.

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rounded head with thin coat of dark slip; friendly features with eyes mostly open, broad nose, wide open, smiling mouth, and prominent chin; eyebrows and chin adorned with human hair attached with wax; holes around base of neck