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Mane of Hair (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 Hair
  • Place Made: Zambia
  • DATES early 20th century
    DIMENSIONS 7 1/8 x 5 1/8 in. (18.1 x 13 cm)
    COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in African Storage Annex, East Gallery, 1st Floor
    ACCESSION NUMBER 36.554
    CREDIT LINE Museum Collection Fund
    CAPTION Luvale. Mane of Hair (Likishi Dance Costume Accessory), early 20th century. Hair, 7 1/8 x 5 1/8 in. (18.1 x 13 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Collection Fund, 36.554. Creative Commons-BY
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Mane of black and white hair worn by dancer. (see 36.548) CONDITION: Good
    RECORD COMPLETENESS Meh (36%)
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