Tabwa Mask, colored glass beads, feathers, cloth raffia and skin, Zambia late XIX-early XXc.

Mask, second quarter of 20th century

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In the past (and maybe still today), medium diviners among the Tabwa people were possessed by spirits, which enabled them to seek explanations and cures for illness and other misfortunes. This process of enlightenment was called “the rising of the moon,” an expression referring to the dawning of light and hope after a period of darkness. Tabwa artists graphically rendered this concept as a series of dark and light interlocking triangles, a very common motif that was incised as scarification on people’s bodies, braided into hairdos, woven into baskets, and engraved into metal bracelets. It is also visible on this diviner’s mask.

Details
Title
Mask
Role
Artist
Accession Number
89.14
Curator Approved

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Tabwa Mask, colored glass beads, feathers, cloth raffia and skin, Zambia late XIX-early XXc.