smiling face with open mouth; very long slim nose

Misi gwa so'o (Chimpanzee Mask), 20th century



Gift of David and Sara Liebermanexpand_more  2001.198.9

Not on Viewexpand_more

Chimpanzees are rarely featured in African art because their resemblance to humans can be unsettling. Exceptions are the misi gwa so'o masks of the Hemba. The exaggerated features of the half-human, half-chimpanzee mask contrast greatly with the noble and reserved ancestral figures of the classic Hemba style. The wide, open mouth and raised eyebrows were not meant to be comical, but rather fearsome and terrifying. Misi gwa so'o masks were used at funerals to symbolize the presence of death.

Misi gwa so'o (Chimpanzee Mask)
Accession Number
Curator Approved

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smiling face with open mouth; very long slim nose