X2002.33.20 Mask

<< Back


Chisaluke (tutelary ancestor)
Luvale or Luchazi peoples
Late 19th-20th century
Wood, animal hair, cordage, cloth, paper
H: 36.0 cm, W: 30.0 cm, D: 23.0 cm (H: 14.2 in, W: 11.8 in, D: 9.1 in)
Museum purchase with funds provided by Jay T. Last. X2002.33.20


Chisaluke (plural, Visaluke) is a male guardian and tutelary spirit of initiation novices. Initiation camps may have as few as two or more than a dozen initiates, and ideally there should be one Chisaluke for each of them. Visaluke appear during the last two weeks of initiation right before the graduation ceremony and the reintroduction of the initiates to society after months of seclusion. Chisaluke masks are typically constructed by modeling beeswax or another resinous material over a twig and fiber frame. The pelts of small evasive, nocturnal mammals are attached to the headdress to symbolize the powers of invisibility associated with this ancestor.