Njorowe or Ndimu (Body Plate / Mask)

Unidentified Makonde maker

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late 19th-early 20th century

Wood, beeswax, iron, fiber, and pigment

Overall: 19 11/16 × 11 7/16 × 6 11/16 in. (50 × 29 × 17 cm)

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth: Purchased through the Julia L. Whittier Fund

2005.69

Geography

Place Made: Tanzania or Mozambique, Tanzania, Eastern Africa, Africa

Period

19th century

Object Name

Personal Adornment

Research Area

Africa

Not on view

Label

A Makonde man wore this wooden body mask modeled after a young woman’s pregnant belly and full breasts during danced performances accompanied by a chorus and an ensemble of drums. He also wore a mask on his head which, unexpectedly, depicted the features of a much older woman. The character he presented was an elder woman who was scandalously pregnant, meant as a comic jab at the respected women who organized girls’ initiation into adulthood. The knowledge they passed along to their younger counterparts included practical information on sexual activities, pregnancy, and childbirth—the mask and performance focused on this aspect of their work, drawing it out to an absurd degree. In reality, the expansive range of elder Makonde women’s teachings included domestic, medical, and social knowledge, reflecting a woman’s role in leading her family and community.

From the 2023 exhibition Homecoming: Domesticity and Kinship in Global African Art, curated by Alexandra Thomas, Curatorial Research Associate

Course History

AAAS 11, Introduction to African Studies, Naaborko Sackeyfio, Spring 2013

ARTH 16.2, Picasso: The Vollard Suite, Michael R.Taylor, Fall 2013

First Year Student Enrichment Program – Cultures, Identities and Belongings, Colleen Lannon, Summer 2023

First Year Student Enrichment Program - Cultures, Identities and Belongings, Mokhtar Bouba, Summer 2023

Philosophy 1.11, Art: True, Beautiful, Nasty, John Kulvicki, Summer 2023

Writing 2.05, Why Write, Anyway?, Erkki Mackey, Fall 2023

Writing 5.24, Photographic Representations, Amanda Wetsel, Fall 2023

Writing 5.25, Photographic Representations, Amanda Wetsel, Fall 2023

Anthropology 31.01, Women's Gender, and Sexuality Studies 36.01, Gender in Cross Cultural Perspectives, Sabrina Billings, Fall 2023

Anthropology 55.01, Anthropology of Global Health, Anne Sosin, Fall 2023

Art History 89.06, Senior Seminar: Theory and Method, Adedoyin Teriba, Fall 2023

Creative Writing 10.02, Writing and Reading Fiction, Katherine Crouch, Fall 2023

Geography 31.01, Postcolonial Geographies, Erin Collins, Fall 2023

Exhibition History

"Collecting and Sharing: Trevor Fairbrother, John T. Kirk, and the Hood Museum of Art", Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, August 22-December 6, 2015.

Black Womanhood: Images, Icons, and Ideologies of the African Body, Friends Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, April 1-August 10, 2008; Davis Museum and Cultural Center, Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts, September 10-December 10, 2008; San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, California, January 21-April 26, 2009.

Evolving Perspectives: Highlights from the African Art Collection at the Hood Museum of Art, Alvin P. Gutman Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 26, 2013-April 6, 2014.

Gender and the Complementarity of Opposites in Tanzanian Sculpture, Lobby, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, July 2006-August 28, 2006.

Homecoming: Domesticity and Kinship in Global African Art, Harteveldt Family Gallery, Owen Robertson Cheatham Gallery, and Northeast Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth, Hanover, New Hampshire, July 22, 2023–May 25, 2024.

Kilengi: African Art from the Bareiss Family Collection, Kestner-Gesellschaft, Germany, August 30-October 19, 1997.

MAK-Osterreichisches Museum, Austria, November 12-January 18, 1998.

Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, New York, September 26-January 10, 2000.

Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachussets, March 15, 2016-June 30, 2018.

Stadtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Germany, April 8-July 5, 1998.

University of Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City, Iowa, March 27-May 23, 1999.

Works from the Continent of Africa, Ivan Albright Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 26, 2019-March 15, 2020.

Publication History

Christopher D. Roy, Kilengi: African Art from the Bareiss Family Collection, Hannover: Kestner Gesellschaft and Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1999, no. 49, p. 109.

Annual Report 2005-6, Hanover, New Hampshire: Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover: Trustees of Dartmouth College, 2006, ill. p.16.

Neumeister's Moderne, African Art from the Bareiss Collection, p. 180-181, lot no. 177, Neumeister Kunstauktionshaus, Munich, Germany, November 10, 2005.

Barbara Thompson, Black Womanhood: Images, Icons, and Ideologies of the African Body, Seattle: University of Washington Press [Hanover: Trustees of Dartmouth College], 2008, p. 118, plate 26.

Collecting and Sharing: Trevor Fairbrother, John T. Kirk, and the Hood Museum of Art, with contributions by Katherine Hart, Michael R. Taylor, John O'Reilly and James Tellin, Trevor Fairbrother and John T. Kirk, Hanover, New Hampshire: Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, 2015, p. 22, Fig. 1.7.

John R. Stomberg, The Hood Now: Art and Inquiry at Dartmouth, Hanover, New Hampshire: Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, 2019, p. 133, ill. plate no. 64.

Provenance

Walter Bareiss Family Collection; Neumeister Moderne, African Art from the Bareiss Collection (lot 177), Neumeister Kunstauktionshaus, Munich, Germany; sold to present collection, November 10, 2005.

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