Shark fin shoulder mask

African, Bidjogo peoples, Guinea Bissau
20th century, 1950–2000
Artist Unidentified


Object Place: Bissagos Islands, Guinea Bissau

Dimensions

Overall: 62 x 61 x 12.5 cm (24 7/16 x 24 x 4 15/16 in.)

Accession Number

2009.2694

Medium or Technique

Wood, pigment, braided plant fiber, nails

Not On View

Collections

Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art

Classifications

Sculpture

This shark’s dorsal fin displays colorful designs, including the outlines of a shark and possibly a ray. Worn on the masker’s back, it was part of a shark costume that belonged to the young men in the cabaro age group. The men brought a variety of sea creatures to life in their performances, enacting the relationship to the sea that provided their livelihood.

Provenance

1973, sold by the Galerie Majestic, Paris, to Geneviève McMillan (b. 1922 - d. 2008), Cambridge, MA; 2008, to the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation, Cambridge; 2009, gift of the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 17, 2009)

Credit Line

Gift of Geneviève McMillan in memory of Reba Stewart