Worn during male and female initiation ceremonies (Likumbi), muti wa lipiko helmet masks (pl. mapiko meaning 'head of the Lipiko') are a visual representation of past ancestors. The masks are used to demonstrate the ancestors joy and approval at the successful completion of the intensive initiation rights by boys and girls of the village.
"Once a year, during the dry season, boys are withdrawn from society before their rebirth as adults with the approach of the wet season. Initiation involves seclusion, circumcision, tattooing, the filing of teeth and the acquisition of knowledge that is otherwise secret. The return to society is marked by the performance of masquerade."3
The muti wa lipiko masks are also used to celebrate the entry of the youngsters back into the Makonde community as men and women.