Pair of Rattles (Likishi Dance Costume Accessory)
Arts of Africa
On View: African Storage Annex, East Gallery, 1st Floor
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.
late 19th or early 20th century
Museum Collection Fund
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Luvale. Pair of Rattles (Likishi Dance Costume Accessory), late 19th or early 20th century. Wood, fiber, 7 1/2 x 8 1/2 in. (19.1 x 21.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Collection Fund, 36.550a-b. Creative Commons-BY
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Pair of wooden rattles, each consisting of four rows of rattles. One rattle missing. Worn by dancer as part of costume. CONDITION: One rattle broken.
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