Makonde body mask
1 in stock
These lipiko masks, which in the language of the Makonde people means “helmet mask.” come from the minority ethnic group of the Makonde live in southern Tanzania and northeastern Mozambique, both north and south of the Rovuma River. The Makonde first came to the region in the eighteenth and nineteenth century seeking refuge from the slave trade and they have continued to experience a great deal of cultural transformation and change over the past century, but especially during the Portuguese Colonial period from 1920 to 1974. This had a major impact on their society and molded much of their art into what is seen today. The Makonde are an agrarian kin-based and matrilineal society. They adhere to an ancestrally based spirituality, despite pressures to convert religiously and adjust economically to the capitalist market. Their matrilineal social structure, meaning ancestry is traced through the female line, is rooted in their creation story, which speaks of the first man who sculpted a woman out of wood. This woman became real and gave birth to the first man’s many children and as a result became the venerated ancestress of the Makonde people (Tribal African Art). Because of this, the female figure is an important protective symbol in Makonde society and in their art, as seen in the body mask.