Arts of Africa
Lipiko masks are used by the Makonde at boys’ and girls’ initiation ceremonies to represent spirits. The masks are noteworthy for their realism, each depicting details of a particular facial type and hairstyle. Lipiko masks are often caricatures representing members of neighboring groups, religious leaders, and colonial officials.
Wood, human hair, fiber, pigment
13 x 10 1/4 x 11 1/4 in. (33 x 26 x 28.6 cm) (show scale)
Museum Expedition 1922, Robert B. Woodward Memorial Fund
Wooden mask, helmet type of heroic size. Soft wood colored a brick-red shade. Human hair (probably) fixed to the top head, beard attached to chin. Protruding lips, flattened nose, rounded forehead. Ears carved into fan-like shapes.
This item is not on view
Makonde artist. Mask (lipiko), 19th century. Wood, human hair, fiber, pigment, 13 x 10 1/4 x 11 1/4 in. (33 x 26 x 28.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Expedition 1922, Robert B. Woodward Memorial Fund, 22.1588. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 22.1588_front_SL1.jpg)
front, 22.1588_front_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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Were these masks used multiple times or were they created specifically for the boy or girl being initiated?
In most cases, a community would share these masks and pass them down, which leads to the general wear and tear and the build up of a patina.