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Between and Mortarboard

UMMA Object Specific Fields

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Mask (idangani)

Accession Number

Mask (idangani)


Artist Nationality

Object Creation Date
circa 1900-1983

Medium & Support
dyed fiber, raffia

27 in x 11 1/8 in x 12 5/8 in (68.5 cm x 28.2 cm x 32 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Prof. and Mrs. Horace M. Miner

Label copy
March 28, 2009
These formidable masks played a vital role in the Sala Mpasu’s warrior society, a powerful association through which men increased their authority by securing the right to wear particular masks. The most prestigious of these were the idangani masks, which represented a married couple and were constructed entirely from fiber. The female mask is identified by the small fiber knobs that recall a popular woman’s hairstyle. The kasangu mask was made of wood and represented a warrior. Its open, rectangular mouth exposes pointed teeth—a Sala Mpasu mark of beauty.
As new forms of authority and wealth were imposed by the Belgian colonial state, the Sala Mpasu disbanded their warrior society and destroyed many of the masks associated with it. However, the resilience of Sala Mpasu artists remains evident in the new forms of masks they continue to create for entertainment, boys’ initiation ceremonies, and the external art market.

Subject matter
In pre-colonial Sala Mpasu society authority was vested in members of the Matambu warriors’ society who could secure the rights to wear an array of important masks. The most prestigious of these were the idangani, made entirely of woven fiber. These masks represented a husband and wife pair. This mask is female, identified by small fiber knobs that recall a popular woman’s hairstyle.

Physical Description
Mask is made entirely of blackish-brown dyed and molded raffia fiber; face has bulging forehead, deeo set narrow eyes, bulbous nose, and raffia “beard.” Top of head has cone-like crest of small fiber knots.

Primary Object Classification
Costume and Costume Accessories

Primary Object Type

Collection Area

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face masks
fiberwork (object genre)

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On display