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HOME : African & Tribal Art : African Masks : Malinke Wooden N'tomo Mask Covered with Metal and Mirrors
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Malinke Wooden N'tomo Mask Covered with Metal and Mirrors - PF.4509
Origin: Central Mali
Circa: 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 22.375" (56.8cm) high x 8.25" (21.0cm) wide
Collection: African
Medium: Wood, Metal, Fiber

Location: Great Britain
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An African ritual is a sacred drama where the living world and the spirit world are joined together. These great theatrical events elevate a community from the mundane to a higher level of consciousness; as if within the context of ritual, conventional time and space are expanded into another dimension. Rituals also provide an opportunity for joyous celebration, dancing, feasting and communal togetherness. In a dance or masquerade a performer takes on another persona as he acts out conflicts, dilemmas and feelings according to the theme of his character expressed in the mask he wears.

One of the most unique and exciting masks is the multi-horned N'tomo used in initiation ceremonies. This wondrous mask immediately grabs our attention and transfixes our gaze on the multitude of textural changes, layered multiple eyeholes, voluptuous hair, and striking row of horns. For young boys and girls the rite of passage was of crucial importance. It marked that almost mystical point in their lives between the fantasies of childhood and the serious world of maturity. The leaving of one life for another is both magical and unnerving; it is an adventure into the unknown. This mask reflects this crucial stage of life with its corrugated metal discs twisting like wheels of machinery, shiny mirrors sparkling with light, semi-circles and quarter moon, thick orbs as eye sockets- all set in a dazzling array of brilliant reflections of light and shade. This beautiful work of art is both futuristic and antediluvian, of the real world and far beyond it, hovering in a trembling moment between two spheres, as are the young boys and girls who stand on the threshold of a new life.
- (PF.4509)


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