Pendant mask

Pende peoples
19th–20th century
more object details

General Description

Pende men and women wear miniature replicas of the masks (sing. gikhokho, pl. ikhokho) used in village masquerades and healing rituals. They wore the pendants as jewelry, suspended around their necks from cords or strings of beads. Those carved from elephant ivory and hippopotamus bone—the preferred material being ivory—were considered prime aesthetic objects that enhanced their owner's sense of beauty and style (ginango). Close contact with the owner's sweaty and red camwood-covered skin discolored this mask to an undesirable quality. To maintain the natural color of the ivory, owners washed their masks as part of their daily toilet.

Adapted from

  • Roslyn A. Walker, Label text, Arts of Africa, 2015.
  • Roslyn A. Walker, The Arts of Africa at the Dallas Museum of Art (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2009), 254-255.