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Likishi Dance Costume Leggings

Arts of Africa

This complete dance costume shows how masks are normally one part of a larger ensemble. The mask is sewn directly onto the costume of looped bark and fiber, which fits tightly over the body of the dancer. Seedpod rattles and metal bells added a musical aspect to the performance.

Although they are danced by Luvale men, mwana pwevo masks depict women. In order to own and perform with a mask, a man had to symbolically marry it by paying the carver a copper ring as a bride price. In so doing, the dancer made a commitment to honor and care for the spirit represented by the mask. In return, the dancer was able to earn his livelihood performing at local festivals.
MEDIUM Bark, rope
  • Place Made: Zambia
  • DATES late 19th or early 20th century
    DIMENSIONS 41 x 25 1/4 in. (104.1 x 64.1 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
    CREDIT LINE Museum Collection Fund
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Brown and tan bark rope trousers worn by dancer as part of a Pwo dance costume. See 36.548 Condition: Worn.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Luvale. Likishi Dance Costume Leggings, late 19th or early 20th century. Bark, rope, 41 x 25 1/4 in. (104.1 x 64.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Collection Fund, 36.549. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 36.548_36.549_36.550a-b_36.551a-b_36.552_36.553_threequarter_installation_SL1.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 36.548_36.549_36.550a-b_36.551a-b_36.552_36.553_threequarter_installation_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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