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Wig (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.
CULTURE Luvale
MEDIUM Beads, fiber
  • Place Made: Zambia
  • DATES late 19th or early 20th century
    DIMENSIONS 13 x 5 1/8 in. (33 x 13 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in African Storage Annex, East Gallery, 1st Floor
    ACCESSION NUMBER 36.553
    CREDIT LINE Museum Collection Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Luvale. Wig (Likishi Dance Costume Accessory), late 19th or early 20th century. Beads, fiber, 13 x 5 1/8 in. (33 x 13 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Collection Fund, 36.553. Creative Commons-BY
    IMAGE group, 36.548_36.549_36.550a-b_36.551a-b_36.552_36.553_front_installation_edited_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2011
    "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.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Wig of brown string trimmed with white beads and some blue and green beads worn by dancer. CONDITION: Good
    RECORD COMPLETENESS Best (89%)
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    Wig (Likishi Dance Costume Accessory)