Mask (Kanaga)

Mask (Kanaga)

c. 1930s

Wood, paint, leather, human hair, plant fiber, and metal

Overall: 94 cm (37 in.)

Gift of Katherine C. White 1971.289


Did you know?

Performing the kanaga mask takes a lot of physical strength, so teenagers or young men typically dance it.


The kanaga, characterized by its double-barred superstructure, has been interpreted variously as representing a bird, a crocodile, Amma (the creator god), or the cosmic realms of sky and earth. Kanaga maskers perform as part of dama rites, whose goal is to escort the soul of a deceased on its journey to the spiritual realm. The masks are spectacular in motion—dramatic dips and whirls in which the dancer touches the top of the mask to the ground with each rapid revolution.

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