|Title||Nyamwezi Toothy Mask Tanzania African Art|
|Type of Object||Face mask|
|Country of Origin||Tanzania|
|Approximate Age||Mid 20th Century|
|Dimensions||Height: 12.5 Inches
Width: 8.5 Inches
|Overall Condition||Good. Most of our pieces have spent decades on at least two continents, and have been treasured by several owners. Small splits, scrapes and cracks are a normal part of their patina attesting to their age and extensive use. We examine each piece carefully when we receive it and report any damage we find in our listings. Please look carefully at the pictures which may also reveal condition and damage.|
|Damage/Repair||Two missing teeth, chips to back top, wear to patina on front|
Additional Information: A mask made out of hard wood, showing a large forehead, a trangular nose, open eyes, and a toothy open mouth. This mask is identified as a Nyamwezi face mask. Nyamwezi masks are rarely found and only a few examples are known. Their uses and functions are not clearly known even though it was recorded that among the Nyamwezi masks such as this were used as dance masks at initiation ceremonies and funerals of society members.
The Nyamwezi are the largest ethnic group in central Tanzania where they share close ties with the neighboring Sukuma people. According to oral traditions they settled in west central Tanzania where they presently live sometime during the 1600s. Called “people of the moon” by their neighbors in Tanzania The Nyamwezi lived in large settlements and later in a number of kingdoms but today live in small dispersed settlements. The Nyamwezi believe in the power of the ancestor and nature spirits. Their sculpture is rich and presents various stylistic trends. Unfortunately their is less researched and published than Western and Central art. Although there are still superb pieces coming out of rural areas.The Nyamwezi are known for their carving that is at best not embellished, roughly executed and relatively sparsely described in the literature of East African art. They produce numerous expressive masks, elegant figures and interesting puppets. These carvings represent nature spirits, ancestors or prominent local people are used in various ritual ceremonies.
Recommended Reading: Marc Felix's MWANA HITI.