two-sided wooden shield; one side has concentric linear pattern with brown and red alternating triangular shapes lining sections alternating a negative space of white pigment; tiny hole in center with a wooden arm shield at one end; the other side has mostly white pigment with two rows of lines with triangle patterns on one end in red pigment; thin dark line in between triangle rows; thin red line intersects with triangle lines, outlining a center hole; dark wooden border around outer perimeter

Carved wooden dance shield (ndomi), mid 20th century

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African shields, while primarily functional objects used in warfare, also played a role as dance regalia during funerals and initiations, and served as status objects and symbols of identification. Because they were often made for ostentatious display, their appearance—size, decoration, color, and materials—was of vital importance. As such, shields can be appreciated as sculptural expressions of creativity and craftsmanship, blurring the line between utilitarian skill and fine art.

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Details
Title
Carved wooden dance shield (ndomi)
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2017.88.1
Curator Approved

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two-sided wooden shield; one side has concentric linear pattern with brown and red alternating triangular shapes lining sections alternating a negative space of white pigment; tiny hole in center with a wooden arm shield at one end; the other side has mostly white pigment with two rows of lines with triangle patterns on one end in red pigment; thin dark line in between triangle rows; thin red line intersects with triangle lines, outlining a center hole; dark wooden border around outer perimeter