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Initiation Mask

Accession Number
1970/2.121

Title
Initiation Mask

Artist(s)
Chokwe

Artist Nationality
Chokwe (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
1900-1970

Medium & Support
bark cloth, cotton and paint

Dimensions
52 3/4 in (134 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Chet H. LaMore

Label copy
Worn during male initiation rites called Mukanda, this mask, Chizuka, is believed to represent the chief's ancestral spirit. Masked rituals are an important feature of the Mukanda, or initiation during which boys are circumcised and subjected to a series of tests that mark their passage into adult male society. Chikuza is the most important spirit at the Mukanda ceremonies. It is purposefully grotesque, for as a representation of supreme authority, it is meant to terrify. In the course of the dance, Chikuza uses a willow whip to chase away the uninitiated and to chastise boys not properly serious about the rites.

Primary Object Classification
Costume and Costume Accessories

Primary Object Type
mask

Collection Area
African

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

Keywords
initiation mask
initiations
masks (costume)
rites

& Author Notes

Web Use Permitted