Nagaady-A-Mwaash Mask, 20th century

  • Kuba, African

Wood, cowry shell, glass beads

  • Overall: 15 × 10 × 10 inches (38.1 × 25.4 × 25.4 cm) Including base: 22 × 10 × 10 inches (55.9 × 25.4 × 25.4 cm)

Founders Society Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Allan Shelden III Fund, funds from the Friends of African Art and the Pierians, Inc.

1992.215

On View

  • African: Masquerades

Department

Africa, Oceania & Indigenous Americas

  • Triangles (polygons)
  • Geometric motifs
  • Stripes
  • Beading (process)
  • Wood
  • Glass
  • Mask (costume)
  • Geometric pattern
  • Diamonds (motifs)
  • Cowry shell
  • Kuba

The Ngaady-a-Mwash is one of a triad of masks that are danced to symbolize mythical characters and culture heroes important to the origins of Kuba kingship. Ngaady-a-Mwash is the sister and wife of the Kuba's legendary original king. The interplay between masked dancers who portray Ngaady-a-Mwash and two of her mythical suitors teaches the people the balance of power between the king and his subjects. These masks are worn during dances for initiation rites, funeral ceremonies, and royal gatherings.

(Tambaran Gallery, New York, New York, USA); 1992-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)

African Masterworks In The Detroit Institute of Arts. Washington and London: The Detroit Institute of Arts and Smithsonian Institution Press, 1995, cat. no. 73.

Kuba, African, Nagaady-A-Mwaash Mask, 20th century, wood, cowry shell, glass beads. Detroit Institute of Arts, Founders Society Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Allan Shelden III Fund, funds from the Friends of African Art and the Pierians, Inc., 1992.215.