A large Mumuye shoulder mask

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Category: SKU: DSC05259


A large Mumuye shoulder mask (also known under the name “vertical mask”) Masks worn horizontally on the head are found across the Middle Benue. In their forms and meanings, they fuse references to animals and humans, the wild and domesticated. The resemblances between masks made by the Chamba, Mumuye, Jukun, Yukuben, Kuteb, and Kantana/Kulere peoples are evidence of a set of broadly shared religious ideas. These ideas and their materialization as masquerades must have spread across the region long before the nineteenth century. With few exceptions, the masks performed in rites of passage (particularly the initiation of young men, the individual and collective remembrance of the dead, and the shifting of seasons).

These hybrid masks are grouped to reveal their strong formal commonalities: each has a central helmet, or cap, where the wearer’s head is covered; backward horns; and a frontal snout. They combine shorthand references to the horns of the dwarf forest buffalo (or bushcow) and to the human skull, as well as other to other human features, for example, nose, ears, hair plaits, or scarification markings. Some performed in gendered pairs with the females taking a distinctively different form.

Although not shown in this short Super 8 film by Arnold Rubin, this specific mask type gives a good insight into the masks of the Mumuye, Chamba, Jukun and their neighbors. Today it is no longer possible to make inquiries in this region because they are dominated by Islamists who have destroyed the remnants of these ancient cultures and who have caused many people in the villages to flee.

” These films were shot by UCLA Professor Arnold Rubin in 1965 and 1970 in several Middle Benue towns. They have been excerpted from unedited footage housed in the Rubin Archive in the Fowler Museum. Although the masquerades were performed with music, the technology did not allow for simultaneous sound recording. These rare films have never before been shown in a public setting.” Source: Fowler Museum.

2.400,- 3.200,- Euro

Height: 103 cm
Weight: 14 kg

Additional information

Weight 14 kg