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African Masks - Yaka Mask

African art and masks of the Salampasu. The Salampasu (also Salanpaso) live in Angola and the Congo (Zaire). They are loosely governed confederation of villages headed by tribal chiefs. Surrounded on all sides by hostile neighbors, the Salampasu have had to develop a strong warrior ethic, much of which is expressed in their mask-making. Some Salampasu war masks are considered so frightful that merely saying their names may kill by-standers! Salampasu society is highly stratified, with initiation ceremonies playing vital roles as each individual progresses from level to level. This mask would be worn as part of the one such ceremony, the circumcision. Crafted of wood and topped with raffia coils, it is typical of Salampasu mask-making. The raffia "hair" on top; the high forehead; the broadly triangular nose; the teeth which are visible between the parted lips; the long, pointed, jutting chin; all are characteristic Salampasu stylistic elements. It is 15 inches tall, and 10 inches wide at the raffia coils, and would be worn with a full suit of raffia palm.



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