knit brow, upper eyelid overhanging thin slit eyes, dark vertical smears on the cheeks; half-open mouth with one row of filed teeth; smooth face; traces of kaolin at the teeth, the hairline and around the nose; black, smooth, vertical crescent-shaped coiffure; black stripe down the forehead and on the eyebrows; red color on the lips; hole in each ear; hole at top of coiffure on each side (2nd hole on PR side)

Mask, late 19th century

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The filed upper teeth and black headdress indicate that we’re looking at a high-ranking woman of Yombe society. Because this highly realistic mask shows her as an ancestor, her face is painted white, the color of the supernatural. When worn by a male dancer during ritual ceremonies, the spirit of the deceased woman would appear from the otherworld to bring fertility, appeasement, and wellbeing to the living.

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Yombe mask (#824)
Details
Title
Mask
Role
Artist
Accession Number
99.165
Curator Approved

This record is from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator, so may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our 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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knit brow, upper eyelid overhanging thin slit eyes, dark vertical smears on the cheeks; half-open mouth with one row of filed teeth; smooth face; traces of kaolin at the teeth, the hairline and around the nose; black, smooth, vertical crescent-shaped coiffure; black stripe down the forehead and on the eyebrows; red color on the lips; hole in each ear; hole at top of coiffure on each side (2nd hole on PR side)