Restitution of the Makondé Mask - May 2010

Makondé Mask © ICOM

As part of the talks held by the Committee since 2006, and the discussions maintained by the Swiss authorities, the International Council of Museums (ICOM) and the UNESCO Secretariat with the concerned parties in this case (United Republic of Tanzania and the Barbier-Mueller Museum in Geneva), the parties reached a bilateral agreement.  

The restitution ceremony took place under the aegis of ICOM and in the presence of UNESCO on 10th May 2010 in a Parisian hotel. 

It is an example of a « lipiko » mask, the most recent style of mask, which is characterized by its realism and its caricatured style. Until the 1960s, this helmet-mask was worn by dancers during masculine initiation rituals, who looked through the opening of the mouth and attached their costume with a fine cord tied to the edge of the mask. The character represented in the dance wears a hat, has prominent lips, a strong neck, an angular jaw, a moustache, and has well-shaped nostrils.  The masque is carved from a light and tender wood. Its height is 30,5 cm. 

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