Mukinka (Warrior Mask)

By: Adenike Cosgrove Tagged:


The Mugongo society of warriors is responsible for the protection of Salampasu communities; society members protect against invasion from rival clans or other external forces. To become a member of Mugongo, Salampasu boys must be circumcised and pass through its various initiation sub-societies, the highest of which is the society called Matambu (within which the highest initiate level is called the Mukish).

Each initiation sub-society has an associated mask type which the boys gain access to upon completing the initiation level and paying an initiation fee. Associated with the Ibuku initiation level, the mukinka mask is considered the most senior of all masks. Owned by accomplished warriors, mukinka masks are worn during special ceremonies such as funerals, Matambu dances.

Distinguishing Features

  • Headdress made of tuft of feathers or coiffure with balls of cane
  • Domed forehead
  • Sunken eye sockets
  • Tubular ears
  • Large, broad triangular nose
  • Pierced nostrils
  • Aggressive mouth
  • Pointed teeth (depicting filled initiate teeth)
  • Pointed chin
  • Mask covered (fully or partially) in copper sheet
    • Horizontal rows of square or rectangular pieces of copper
    • Copper sometimes applied in massive, large rectangular strips
    • Rare examples have regular arrangement of small right-angled pieces of copper applied in V-shaped pattern
    • Partially covered masks have rectangular strips applied vertically on forehead (sometimes strips of different breadths)
    • Iron nails hold copper strips in place
  • NOTE: Masks made for commercial sale use wooden pegs in place of nails to hold copper in place
  • Headband and chin pierced with holes to fix headdress and beard

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