This head has been vetted as being authentic with signs of significant use and age. It was once probably part of a figure or a head on a post similar to Sukuma Head 18.
We don't know whether the metal plates were original by design or to repair old damage but they add to the interest and strength of the head as a sculpture.
Little is known of these strange figures, danced by the Sukuma a northern Nyamwezi people. Features are undistinguished, gender is often undefined. The figures, called mabinda, with moving parts (present or missing) are used in very theatrical, competitive and often provocative dance performances. The other figures relate to grave markers or are part of a chief's treasury. Nyamwezi figures are often similar but usually with inset beaded eyes.
There is a good article on the Sukuma dance figures by Aimee Bessire in the Spring 2005 issue of African Arts.
GO TO SUKUMA MASKS AND HEADS PAGE
GO TO SUKUMA FIGURES PAGE