MAf 16595

Please find more information about the object below the image.

Producer unknown to us

Mask (n’dimu namidinga)

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 16595

This mask is one of the so-called devil masks, representing demons in the Makonde community. The outer shape is based on that of a hare. To this day, masks like this one are sometimes worn and danced with robes at the conclusion of initiation festivities held by the Makonde community. The festivities take place during the dry season between June and October. The face masks are worn in front of the actual face of the male dancer or on his forehead.

The mask 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