Makonde Lipico mask (plural - Mapiko)
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Makonde Lipico mask
Blackened wood with tufts of human hair on top.  Raised scarification marks in zigzags and other geometric patterns.
Provenance:  the estate of Jean-Pierre Hallet, Malibu.

10 1/2 x 7 x 10 1/2 inches.

A nicely carved mask in good style.

Makonde carvers are prolific producers of masks, statues and decorative objects. The most famous Makonde masks are their helmet masks which are
used to mark a boy's initiation into adulthood, they are also used in girl's initiation ceremonies. These masks, called Lipico, have realistic features and
are often inset with hair and decorated with was facial scarifications.

Additional information coming soon...
Artist:    Makonde    
Title:    Helmet Mask    
Date:    late 19th-early 20th century    
Medium:    Wood, hair    
Dimensions:    8 5/8 x 6 x 9 1/4 in. (21.9 x 15.2 x 23.5 cm)    
Credit Line:    The Ethel Morrison Van Derlip Fund    
Location:    Gallery 254    
Object Description        
Classification:    Sculpture    
Creation Place:    Africa, Mozambique, Central Africa region    
Accession #:    74.77    
Owner:    The Minneapolis Institute of Arts    
Makonde Helmet Mask, Fine Arts Museums of San
Francisco, Johnson Photo
The mask above is in the Gelbard Collection of African Art
From the book: Remnants of Ritual

Helmet mask, Makonde; Mozambique/Tanzania
Wood, pigment, human hair; H. 8 3/4"

"The Makonde of northern Mozambique and southern Tanzania wore helmet masks for initiation
ceremonies called Lipiko for both boys and girls. The mask or "head of the lipiko" (muti wa
lipiko) is made of a light, balsa-like wood and worn with a cloth tied around the bottom rim that
falls loosely over the masquerader. The naturalism of these masks is often accentuated by the
addition of human hair. Older examples of male masks such as this are often simple and
understated. Additionally, some older masks are decorated with applied beeswax to represent
raised scarifications. More recent examples display a broader variety of characters. Within an
initiation context, boys were forced to overpower the masquerader and unmask the Lipiko. "
Source: Remnants of Ritual
The mask above is in the collection of the University of Iowa Museum of Art

Makonde people, Mozambique
The Stanley Collection
The University of Iowa Museum of Art
photo by Ecco Wang

"The theoretical model developed by the late Victor Turner to describe initiation includes a
phase of separation from the child's family and playmates, followed by a liminal state when the
child is neither a child nor an adult, but is believed to live in a different world or in a different
state, and ending with reintegration as an adult into village society. Among some peoples the
metaphor of being eaten by a monster from the wilderness, to spend time in the belly of the
beast, and to be reborn or regurgitated as an adult serves as an alternative theoretical model.
Scars may be applied to the abdomen and back of the child that imitate the tooth marks of the
monster from the wilderness. When the new initiate is "reborn" s/he may need to be taught how
to eat, dress, and even speak just as an infant might be taught. The Makonde mask seen here
bears the elaborate scars that Makonde men and women wore in the 19th century."
Photos below of Makonde Lipiko in situ

Images from -
The cover of the book
Makonde - by John Stone
Makonde - by John Stone

A survey of the society, economy and art of the Makonde of
southeast Tanzania and northeast Mozambique. Richly
illustrated with colour photographs. Includes a guide to further
reading and a glossary. Index, map, 64pp, USA. ROSEN

1998 Hardback

Available from the
Africa Book Centre On-Line catalog
If you're interested in reading more on the Makonde,
below are a couple of resources that I find interesting.
Symbols of Cultural Identity: A Case Study from Tanzania (from the African Archaeological Review)

Abstract  "Cultural expressions and their contexts of use among two groups of Maconde form a
basis for a discussion of cultural reproduction and the fluidity of ethnic boundaries. The material
presented here is based on ethnoarchaeological fieldwork in Tanzania and Mozambique. Two
groups, one based in Tanzania and the other in Mozambique, both identify themselves as one
group, although they use and display material culture quite differently. The arguments in the
paper are concerned with understanding the highly dynamic character of ethnicity in these East
African societies and an attempt to look at shifting ethnic boundaries among the groups in the
Rovuma Basin, in particular, over the last centuries. Here symbols of cultural identity have been
manipulated and reintroduced into new contexts, as cultures change and groups adjust to their
social environment."

It's an article that you have to order and pay for, but it's actually pretty interesting and a good
read. If you're interested in finding out a little more about what this article is about,
send me an