Revolutions: A Century of Makonde Masquerade in Mozambique

By Alexander Ives Bortolot

The author, Alexander Bortolot, spent 2004 living in various small villages in northern Mozambique, staying with a number of different Makonde families. In addition to his extensive research in state and institutional archives, he conducted interviews with dancers, sculptors, ritual specialists, and political authorities and observed first hand the masquerades and their preparations.

The catalogue features more than 60 examples of Makonde art, including a comprehensive selection of helmet masks, antelope–horn trumpets, drums, figural dance sticks, and ornate metal bracelets. Playing a key role in the unique cultural performance genre known as mapiko, these objects present a broad overview of the evolution of mapiko during the past 60 years and contextualize its practice within the shifting political and economical landscape of the Makonde peoples of southeast Tanzania and northern Mozambique.

The catalogue not only represents the first major research contribution to Makonde studies in the past thirty years but offers a rare opportunity to view Makonde art, which has been largely neglected within the city's public collections of African art. In addition to a curatorial essay based on Bortolot's research, the publication will include more than 60 color images that provide a rare record of Makonde visual culture.