Forani Turtle/Tortoise Collection
Masai mask

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Masai mask
Forani Collection
Cat. No: IN98-1375

A real turtle's carapace converted into an anthropomorphic mask decorated with cowry shells and encircled with vegetable fiber. 20th century, Masaï people, Kenya. L carapace 18.50 cm. Acquired: Norok, Kenya.

Note. The carapace is from an African helmeted turtle, Pelomedusa subrufa, a semi-aquatic species living in temporary rain pools (watering-holes) in semi-tropical open country and, when the pools go dry, burying itself in mud until the next rainy season. At the time of the mask's acquisition, the claim was made that such masks are traditional among the Masaï, being worn at an annual rain making ritual held in January.

Photo: John Noone IMG_0917.jpg

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