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Object Timeline

  • We acquired this object.

-0001

1925

  • Work on this object ended.

2014

2017

  • You found it!

Maskette, late 19th–early 20th century

This is a Maskette.

This object is not part of the Cooper Hewitt's permanent collection. It was able to spend time at the museum on loan from National Museum of African Art as part of Tools: Extending Our Reach.

It is dated late 19th–early 20th century. Its medium is wood, copper alloy, encrustation.

Within Mande-speaking Mau populations of the northwestern regions of Cote d'Ivoire and Guinea, there are men who undergo years of specialized training in the art of combatting the negative forces that cause social, moral, and physical discord. They belong to an exclusive organization, called the Koma society. Though less common today than in the early twentieth century, Koma society members work with two large-scale masks: the Komaba ("Mother of Masks"), which would attract the negative forces, and the Komasu (principal male mask), which would eliminate them. With its attenuated beak-like projection and heavily encrusted surface, this miniature mask draws on the symbolism and materials used to empower the larger Komaba and Komasu but it would have been used by an individual man. In his hands, it would serve both to protect him and to act as a calling card --proving his membership in Koma-- should he travel.

It is credited National Museum of African Art, Gift of Lawrence Gussman in memory of Dr. Albert Schweitzer, 98-15-11.

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Its dimensions are

H x W x D: 29.1 x 8 x 6 cm (11 7/16 x 3 1/8 x 2 3/8 in.)

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Tools: Extending Our Reach.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/35457383/ |title=Maskette, late 19th–early 20th century |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=24 November 2017 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>

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