MAf 16611

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 16611

This object is a mask from the Makonde community in present-day Tanzania. It portrays a female person, evident from the characteristic lip peg, ear jewelry, and facial tattoos applied with beeswax. The mask was used during initiation dances by male members of the community. The mask (n'dimu) 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 fell victim to the bomb attack on Leipzig in 1943.

Stefanie Bach