A Makua or Makonde facemask
Lot 2614
A Makua or Makonde facemask
US$ 5,000 - 7,000
£3,000 - 4,200
Auction Details
Lot Details
A Makua or Makonde facemask
Mozambique/Tanzania, of dense hardwood, covered with red pigment, the facial hair indicated by animal hide.
height 9 1/2in


  • Exhibited:
    Governors State University, IL, 2003
    Krannert Art Museum, IL, 2003
    Belger Art Foundation/University of Missouri-Kansas City, MO, 2004
    Tall Grass Art Association, IL, 2005

    Bourgeois and Rodolitz, REMNANTS OF RITUAL: SELECTIONS FROM THE GELBARD COLLECTION OF AFRICAN ART, Ethnos, New York, 2003, p.55, fig.116

    Bill Fagg, has written the following about this mask:
    This mask is clearly from the Makonde complex of tribes of Tanzania and Mozambique (more probably the latter) and was probably made between the two world wars. Its unusual features (straight nose, rather naturalistic ears, disposition of hair, absence of scarification, etc.) are probably due to its having been intended as a caricature of an Arab, perhaps a slaver. This may also explain the representation of the hair by pieces of monkey fur, instead of the insertion of tufts of human hair with a knife; however monkey fur is used at least on one old mask which clearly represents a Makonde (see Holy, Masks and figures from Eastern and Southern Africa, 1967, plate 71). Such representations of Arabs are very rare.