Ndeemba Mask for N-khanda Initiation
Arts of Africa
Several types of masks are used in dances celebrating the emergence of young initiates from the Yaka circumcision camp, where boys are ritually received into Yaka manhood. Initiates hold n-khanda masks like this one to celebrate their new status as men.
Wood, fiber, pigment
early 20th century
20 x 14 3/4 x 14 1/2 in. (50.8 x 37.5 x 36.8 cm)
Gift of Gaston T. de Havenon
Mask with a small carved wooden face with elaborate woven fiber headdress. The headdress consists of a central raised cone surrounded by four raised fan shapes and an outer rim of five raised cone forms projecting at angles from the center. The face has rectangular shaped ears with horseshoe indentations: the mouth is open and teeth are indicated; the eyes are coffee bean shaped and protrude. Attached around the rim of the mask is a thick raffia collar. Underneath the raffia is a handle of wood. The face and headdress are painted-face has white, blue, black and red pigment; the headdress is painted black with ochre geometric patterns. CONDITION: Raffia very dry and shedding; one point on right side of headdress cracked and fragile. This piece was treated by the Conservation Department (see file in Department office).
This item is not on view
Yaka. Ndeemba Mask for N-khanda Initiation, early 20th century. Wood, fiber, pigment, 20 x 14 3/4 x 14 1/2 in. (50.8 x 37.5 x 36.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Gaston T. de Havenon, 73.179.3. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 73.179.3_PS2.jpg)
overall, 73.179.3_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2007
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What is this?
You may have read on the label that this mask would be used in Yaka circumcision and initiation rituals. After the boys are initiated as men, they travel through numerous villages and are presented as adults. This mask was crucial in these presentations however, it wouldn't be worn. Instead it would actually be held by with a stick . The stick on this particular mask is hidden by the rafia.