MAf 16540

Please find more information about the object below the image.

Producer unknown to us

Mask (n’dimu)

Africa, Tanzania, Newala Plateau, Makonde

Prior to 1906

Wood, carved

Karl Weule (director of the museum 1907–1926), aided by a Makonde intermediary, collected the group of masks on his expedition to East Africa in 1906

Transferred to the museum by Weule in 1908

MAf 16540

To this day, masks (midimu) like this one are worn and danced with robes at the conclusion of initiation festivities held by the Makonde community. They may represent women, men, the devil, or animal beings and are worn exclusively by young men.

It portrays a male person.

This specimen belongs to a bundle of 55 masks that Karl Weule collected between 1906 and 1907 in the southeastern region of what is now Tanzania. Initially, he acquired 121 masks on his expedition with the help of a Makonde middleman, whose name is still unknown to the museum. According to Weule, a large part of the collection was secured in Mahuta. He himself states that the masks could only be obtained "by cunning, firmness and perseverance." Forty-eight of them were handed over to Berlin after his return, some were also given to Göttingen and Lübeck, and two were exchanged with the Basel Museum. Eight masks were destroyed during the bombing raid on Leipzig in 1943.

Stefanie Bach