X70.924 Mask

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Utenu (angry ancestor)
Luvale peoples
Late 19th-20th century
Wood, bark cloth, fabric, paper, hair, resin
H: 55.9 cm (H: 22.0 in)
Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Joel Breman. X70.924


Gallery wall text, Fowler in Focus: Makishi, 2007

Utenu has an anthropomorphic face with a flat, keel-shaped headdress decorated with patterns. This character falls within the category of aggressive masks whose main function is to protect the initiation camp and novices. Utenu is extremely aggressive in demeanor, chasing people, casting insults, and making rude utterances. The mask is known to run and crash against bushes or shrubs, demonstrating its uncontrollable rage. Such behavioral tendencies are meant to be intimidating but also serve to contrast with the social, friendly, and well-mannered demeanor of characters such as Pwevo.