MAf 16505

Please find more information about the object below the image.

Breast shield

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 16505

Breastplates were often worn together with face masks (midimu), which portrayed women during initiation ceremonies held by the Makonde community. They were worn exclusively by young men. The face mask with the inventory number MAf 16590 belongs to the breastplate.

The breastplate is part of a collection of 55 masks and three breastplates that Karl Weule collected between 1906 and 1907 in the southeastern region of present-day Tanzania. This collection was acquired with the help of a Makonde intermediary, 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 and three breastplates fell victim to the bomb attack on Leipzig in 1943.

Stefanie Bach