Helmet Mask (tönköngba or tabakän)

Helmet Mask (tönköngba or tabakän)

early 1900s

Wood and natural fibers

Overall: 76.2 cm (30 in.)

Gift of Katherine C. White 1969.3


It seems that this type of object--once used among various peoples in the region--could have served both as a shrine and as a dance headdress. It would only have been part of a dance when a sacrifice to the ancestors was needed, at a funeral, or during a male initiation. Despite obvious animal references, the type represents an invented composite being that some described as a creature of the sea.

See also
African Art
African Art
Type of artwork: 

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