TITLE: Salampasu Mukinka Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Democratic Republic of Congo
ETHNICITY: Salampasu
DESCRIPTION: Mukinka Mask
CATALOG ID: AFCD023
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: adult initiation; funeral; secret society
AGE: 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: copper sheet; wicker; kaolin clay

The Salampasu people are a small ethnic group living on the frontier between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola. They are historically known as fierce warriors and successful hunters, governed by a hierarchical organization of chiefs in concert with the warrior’s society (mugongo).

Masks are used in adult initation ceremonies and can only be worn by initiated males.  Some, such as the kasangu mask, can be worn only by a male who has killed an enemy and has become a member of the Ibuku society. Such persons may also wear the mukinka mask, which, unlike other masks, is danced at funerals of important persons. The valuable copper coating signifies that the mask represents a chief.

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TITLE: Senufo Kponyugo
TYPE: crest mask
GENERAL REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
ETHNICITY: Senufo
DESCRIPTION: Kponyugo Mask
CATALOG #: AFCI026
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Funeral; Protection/Purification; Secret Society; Social Control
AGE: 1960s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: n/a

The Senufo people and reside primarily in Côte d’Ivoire, with some also living in Burkina Faso and Mali. Among their many masking traditions is the kponyugo, or firespitter mask. Its literal meaning is “head of one who died,” and it is used primarily by the Poro secret society at funerals, to drive away evil spirits and punish human malefactors. The mask combines attributes of multiple fierce animals, such as the hyena and warthog (both dominant here), crocodile, ram, and antelope. Women and children are counseld not to look at the kponyugo due to its ferocity.

This mask was acquired by a generous gift from an anonymous donor.

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TITLE: Toussian (Tusyan) Loniaken Mask
TYPE: plank mask
GENERAL REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Burkina Faso
ETHNICITY: Toussian (Tusyan)
DESCRIPTION: Loniaken Plank Mask for Do or Lo Society
CATALOG #: AFBF001
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Adult Initiation; Funeral; Secret Society
AGE: 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: wicker; mineral paint; raffia fiber

The Toussian (also written Tusyan) people are a small ethnic group in southwestern Burkina Faso. Members of the Do or Lo Society dance these masks at funerals and during adult initiation ceremonies of young men. At the ceremonies, the boys are given new, secret names associated with totemic birds or animals.  The loniaken mask itself usually portrays a totemic hornbill bird, and it is specially danced in major Do or Lo Society ceremonies that occur every forty years.

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TITLE: Newar Lakhe Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Nepal
SUBREGION: Kathmandu Valley
ETHNICITY: Newar
DESCRIPTION: Lakhe Mask
CATALOG #: ASNP006
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Nava Durga
AGE: 1950s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: mirror; adhesive; paint; cotton cloth; cotton batting; vegetable fiber; hardware

The Newar people of the Kathmandu Valley have a syncretic Hindu-Buddhist religious tradition.  They practice several kinds of masked dance for both sacred and dramatic purposes. Sacred masked dance such as Nava Durga illustrate the nine forms that the goddess Durga takes to fight demons (asura). Dancers belong to a secret society. Nava Durga masks are considered to be alive and are empowered with supernatural forces. Tantric Hindu priests renew the power of the masks each year by performing certain rituals and reciting secret mantras. As soon as the dancer puts their mask on over his face, he becomes possessed by the divinity the dancer represent. The various gods and animals and protect and purify the village.

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TITLE: Pecado Mayor Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Spain
SUBREGION: Castile-La Mancha
ETHNICITY: Spanish (Iberian)
DESCRIPTION: Pecado Mayor (Elder Sin) Mask
CATALOG #: EUES002
MAKER: Julio Naranjo Palomo (Camuñas, Spain, 1941- )
CEREMONY: Corpus Christi
FUNCTION: Adult Initiation; Celebration; Secret Society
AGE: 2022
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: goat horns; adhesive; paint; satin ribbons; elastic strap

The Corpus Christi celebration of Camuñas, Spain, embodies a tradition hundreds of years old. The celebration is organized by fraternities (hermandades) of “Dancers” (Danzantes) and “Sins” (Pecados). In its broadest sense, the tradition represents a drama of redemption, the triumph of divine grace over sin. The celebration begins with the Danzantes parading through the streets of Camuñas with masks off, jingling tambourines and playing a drum and a unique percussion wood block called la porra. Leading the group is a Capitán carrying a short spear decorated with ribbons. Accompanying them are a standard-bearer with the fraternity’s symbols and a (male) dancer wearing women’s clothes, playing castanets, and wearing a unique mask called the Madama. The Danzantes follow a predetermined, decorated path through town, stopping periodically for refreshments at the homes of the group’s leaders. The leaders after the capitán, in order of seniority, are the Mayor (Alcalde), Elder Jew (Judío Mayor), and the Twine (Cordel).

The Danzantes finally make their way to the headquarters of the Pecados, who greet them in a double file wearing their horned masks. The Pecados carry a decorated staff (la vara) and are organized hierarchically into the senior authority, the Little Sin (Pecailla, or Pecadilla), the Belt (Correa), the Elder Sin (Pecado Mayor), and the Alternate Belt (Suplente Correa). Also included are initiates (novicios).  The Pecailla and Pecado Mayor each have a unique mask, which, together with the common Danzantes, Pecados, and Madama, makes five types of mask used in the celebration.

After enjoying refreshments again, the Danzantes and Pecados parade together across town toward the curate’s house, where they are joined by women in traditional Spanish dress who, with the standard-bearer and a cross-bearer, accompany the curate. The Danzantes form a double line down the street, and the pecados one by one run up the street toward the curate with their masks on, jumping at the end and kneeling before him. They then remove their masks and receive a blessing from the curate.

On the day of Corpus Christi, the same procedure is followed, but afterward the Danzantes and Pecados parade to the church. The Danzantes alone enter the church and parade through the nave, after which they form a double line in the church plaza outside, between the town clock tower and an altar and reliquary at the rear of the church. They all kneel before the altar, then the Danzantes dance, during which the Pecados individually charge toward the altar, leaping and kneeling before the reliquary and removing their mask. The group then continues to parade together through town, performing one last series of charges toward the curate and returning to their fraternity headquarters.

On the day after Corpus Christi, the initiates are dressed in rags and taken to the town windmill in a straw-covered cart, which is symbolically burned while the initiates are symbolically hung using a safety harness in a ritual called La Horca (The Gallows). La Horca is a form of initiation into the fraternities. The townspeople celebrate the intiation with water fights, and traditionally the hung initiate is thoroughly doused with water, somewhat reminiscent of the way Catholic priests convey blessings or baptism by spraying holy water with an aspergillum.

This mask was donated to the Museum through the generosity of the City of Camuñas and its Centro de Interpretación Danzantes y Pecados.


Click here to watch a short documentary on the Corpus Christi celebration of Camuñas, Spain.

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TITLE: Pecado Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Spain
SUBREGION: Castile-La Mancha
ETHNICITY: Spanish (Iberian)
DESCRIPTION: Pecado (Sin) Mask
CATALOG ID: EUES004
MAKER: Julio Naranjo Palomo (Camuñas, Spain, 1941- )
CEREMONY: Corpus Christi
FUNCTION: Adult Initiation; Celebration; Secret Society
AGE: 2022
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: goat horns; adhesive; paint; satin ribbons; elastic strap

The Corpus Christi celebration of Camuñas, Spain, embodies a tradition hundreds of years old. The celebration is organized by fraternities (hermandades) of “Dancers” (Danzantes) and “Sins” (Pecados). In its broadest sense, the tradition represents a drama of redemption, the triumph of divine grace over sin. The celebration begins with the Danzantes parading through the streets of Camuñas with masks off, jingling tambourines and playing a drum and a unique percussion wood block called la porra. Lead the group is a Capitán carrying a short spear decorated with ribbons. Accompanying them are a standard-bearer with the fraternity’s symbols and a (male) dancer wearing women’s clothes, playing castanets, and wearing a unique mask called the Madama. The Danzantes follow a predetermined, decorated path through town, stopping periodically for refreshments at the homes of the group’s leaders. The leaders after the capitán, in order of seniority, are the Mayor (Alcalde), Elder Jew (Judío Mayor), and the Twine (Cordel).

The Danzantes finally make their way to the headquarters of the Pecados, who greet them in a double file wearing their horned masks. The Pecados carry a decorated staff (la vara) and are organized hierarchically into the senior authority, the Little Sin (Pecailla, or Pecadilla), the Belt (Correa), the Elder Sin (Pecado Mayor), and the Alternate Belt (Suplente Correa). Also included are initiates (novicios).  The Pecailla and Pecado Mayor each have a unique mask, which, together with the common Danzantes, Pecados, and Madama, makes five types of mask used in the celebration.

After enjoying refreshments again, the Danzantes and Pecados parade together across town toward the curate’s house, where they are joined by women in traditional Spanish dress who, with the standard-bearer and a cross-bearer, accompany the curate. The Danzantes form a double line down the street, and the pecados one by one run up the street toward the curate with their masks on, jumping at the end and kneeling before him. They then remove their masks and receive a blessing from the curate.

On the day of Corpus Christi, the same procedure is followed, but afterward the Danzantes and Pecados parade to the church. The Danzantes alone enter the church and parade through the nave, after which they form a double line in the church plaza outside, between the town clock tower and an altar and reliquary at the rear of the church. They all kneel before the altar, then the Danzantes dance, during which the Pecados individually charge toward the altar, leaping and kneeling before the reliquary and removing their mask. The group then continues to parade together through town, performing one last series of charges toward the curate and returning to their fraternity headquarters.

On the day after Corpus Christi, the initiates are dressed in rags and taken to the town windmill in a straw-covered cart, which is symbolically burned while the initiates are symbolically hung using a safety harness in a ritual called La Horca (The Gallows). La Horca is a form of initiation into the fraternities. The townspeople celebrate the intiation with water fights, and traditionally the hung initiate is thoroughly doused with water, somewhat reminiscent of the way Catholic priests convey blessings or baptism by spraying holy water with an aspergillum.

This mask was donated to the Museum through the generosity of the City of Camuñas and its Centro de Interpretación Danzantes y Pecados.


Click here to watch a short documentary on the Corpus Christi celebration of Camuñas, Spain.

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TITLE: Danzante Mask and Tambourine
TYPE: face mask; accessory
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Spain
SUBREGION: Castile-La Mancha
ETHNICITY: Spanish (Iberian)
DESCRIPTION: Danzante Mask and Tambourine
CATALOG ID (mask): EUES005
CATALOG ID (tambourine): EUES003
MAKER (mask): Julio Naranjo Palomo (Camuñas, Spain, 1941- )
MAKER (tambourine): Ángel Cano Santa Cruz (Camuñas, Spain, 1945- )
CEREMONY: Corpus Christi
FUNCTION: Adult Initiation; Celebration; Secret Society
AGE: 2022
MAIN MATERIAL (Mask): paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS (Mask): cork nose; adhesive; paint; elastic strap
MATERIALS (Tambourine): Alla wood; brass cymbals; leather; brass wire; adhesive; brass hardware; dyed cloth

The Corpus Christi celebration of Camuñas, Spain, embodies a tradition hundreds of years old. The celebration is organized by fraternities (hermandades) of “Dancers” (Danzantes) and “Sins” (Pecados). In its broadest sense, the tradition represents a drama of redemption, the triumph of divine grace over sin. The celebration begins with the Danzantes parading through the streets of Camuñas with masks off, jingling tambourines and playing a drum and a unique percussion wood block called la porra. Leading the group is a Capitán carrying a short spear decorated with ribbons. Accompanying them are a standard-bearer with the fraternity’s symbols and a (male) dancer wearing women’s clothes, playing castanets, and wearing a unique mask called the Madama. The Danzantes follow a predetermined, decorated path through town, stopping periodically for refreshments at the homes of the group’s leaders. The leaders after the capitán, in order of seniority, are the Mayor (Alcalde), Elder Jew (Judío Mayor), and the Twine (Cordel).

The Danzantes finally make their way to the headquarters of the Pecados, who greet them in a double file wearing their horned masks. The Pecados carry a decorated staff (la vara) and are organized hierarchically into the senior authority, the Little Sin (Pecailla, or Pecadilla), the Belt (Correa), the Elder Sin (Pecado Mayor), and the Alternate Belt (Suplente Correa). Also included are initiates (novicios).  The Pecailla and Pecado Mayor each have a unique mask, which, together with the common Danzantes, Pecados, and Madama, makes five types of mask used in the celebration.

After enjoying refreshments again, the Danzantes and Pecados parade together across town toward the curate’s house, where they are joined by women in traditional Spanish dress who, with the standard-bearer and a cross-bearer, accompany the curate. The Danzantes form a double line down the street, and the pecados one by one run up the street toward the curate with their masks on, jumping at the end and kneeling before him. They then remove their masks and receive a blessing from the curate.

On the day of Corpus Christi, the same procedure is followed, but afterward the Danzantes and Pecados parade to the church. The Danzantes alone enter the church and parade through the nave, after which they form a double line in the church plaza outside, between the town clock tower and an altar and reliquary at the rear of the church. They all kneel before the altar, then the Danzantes dance, during which the Pecados individually charge toward the altar, leaping and kneeling before the reliquary and removing their mask. The group then continues to parade together through town, performing one last series of charges toward the curate and returning to their fraternity headquarters.

On the day after Corpus Christi, the initiates are dressed in rags and taken to the town windmill in a straw-covered cart, which is symbolically burned while the initiates are symbolically hung using a safety harness in a ritual called La Horca (The Gallows). La Horca is a form of initiation into the fraternities. The townspeople celebrate the intiation with water fights, and traditionally the hung initiate is thoroughly doused with water, somewhat reminiscent of the way Catholic priests convey blessings or baptism by spraying holy water with an aspergillum.

This mask was donated to the Museum through the generosity of the City of Camuñas and its Centro de Interpretación Danzantes y Pecados.


Click here to watch a short documentary on the Corpus Christi celebration of Camuñas, Spain.

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TITLE: Nazarene (Penitent) Mask and Robes
TYPE: face mask; costume
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Spain
SUBREGION: Andalusia
ETHNICITY: Spanish (Iberian)
DESCRIPTION: Mask and Costume of Córdoban Nazareno (Penitente)
CATALOG #: EUES001
MAKER: Juan Carlo Vizcaíno Peralbo (Córdoba, 1979- )
CEREMONY: Holy Week
FUNCTION: Celebration; Secret Society
AGE: 2022
MAIN MATERIAL: “sarga de targál” (cotton-polyester blend cloth)
OTHER MATERIALS: velvet; stitching; rayon belt; cardboard and cotton cloth cone

The Nazarenos (Nazarenes), also called Penitentes (Penitents) are members of fraternities (cofradías) who participate in processions during the Catholic holiday period known as Holy Week in various parts of Spain, especially Andalusia. The robes are designed to preserve the anonymity of the penitent, and the cone-shaped hood, called a capirote, suggests a rising of the penitent toward heaven, or it may be used to redirect attention from the penitent upward, where Catholics believe their god is located. On the chest is a symbol of the cofradía. During Holy Week, the Nazarenos parade daily from the local cathedral or church around a designated route, preceding a paso (a table carried by costaleros and displaying a scene from the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth or an image of his mother Mary). The Nazarenos may carry large candles, a scepter, or an item of religious significance.

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TITLE: Temne Bundu Mask
TYPE: crest mask
GENERAL REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Sierra Leone
ETHNICITY: Temne
DESCRIPTION: Bundu Society Mask
CATALOG #: AFSL001
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Bundu Society
AGE: ca. 1960s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint

The Temne people of Sierra Leone is unusual in having a female secret society with a masking tradition exclusively its own.  The Bundu Society uses a-Nowo crest masks during girls’ initiation rituals involving adulthood and genital mutilation. The mask represents the Temne conception of an ideal woman. The a-Nowo dancer wears the mask atop the head with a full body costume of dark raffia fiber attached, so that no part of the dancer is visible. A-Nowo masked dancers may also appear at important social events, such as visits of foreign dignitaries and funerals of important members of society. Men carve the mask but cannot participate in the ritual.

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TITLE: Bété N’gre Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Côte d’Ivoire
ETHNICITY: Bété
DESCRIPTION: N’gre Mask
CATALOG ID: AFCI012
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Entertainment; Secret Society; Social Control; War Preparation
AGE: ca. 2000
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: iron tacks; kaolin; hardware; earth

The Bété people are closely related in ethnicity to their near neighbors, the We (Guere) and Dan peoples.  They live in the southwestern part of Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast).  The Bété were historically hunters and warriors, but today they are primarily agrarian.  The Bété religion aims to harmonize the life of the people with nature and the ancestor spirits who oversee the welfare of the tribe.  Most Bété maintain their animist belief system.  Although they pray to a creator god, they routinely seek help through sacrifice of animals and eggs to supernatural spirits, including ancestor spirits, nature spirits, and animal spirits.

Each Bété ritual focuses on the maintenance and care of good relations with the world of ancestors, so as to assure the protection of the lineages. The religious cults give rise to numerous mask performances accompanied by music. The apprenticeship of male adolescents in dancing societies revolves around mastering the arts of musical instruments, song, and masked dance.

Bété societies have three classes of masks: kuduo masks are the rarest and most sacred, because they mediate between the living and the dead. Many villages have no kuduo masks, and none possesses more than one.

The most common type of Bété mask is the n’gre, which historically was used in a ceremony for restoring peace after a war, purifying the village of evil spirits, and presiding over dispute settlement and the punishment of wrongdoers. It is thought the mask was also used in war preparation dances to give the wearer magical protection and to terrorize potential enemies. N’gre masks can be made for dancing by adults or for training by young boys. Unlike masks in many other African societies, n’gre masks are not strictly controlled in morphology.  Considerable creative variation occurs among different mask makers. The mask on display here is an adult n’gre.

For more on Bété masked dances, see Armistead P. Rood, “Bété Masked Dance: A View from Within,” 2(3) African Arts 37-43, 76 (1969).

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