Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

Welcome to the Spencer Collection

  • unknown Maasai maker
  • mask, mid 1900s–1968
  • Where object was made: Kenya
  • wood, staining, carving, incising
  • Object Height/Width/Depth: 37 x 20 x 7 cm
    Object Height/Width/Depth: 14 9/16 x 7 7/8 x 2 3/4 in
  • Gift of Karen Sueetta Joyce
  • Not on display
  • 2007.2815

The rectangular human-like face has cut-outs for eyes, with ridges for eyebrows. The nose is flattened and the mouth is opened with flattened lips, but four teeth are visible as is a narrow tongue. The face is dark brown. There is a stylized hairstyle, in natural wood color with dark regions. There is a point in the center top with incised lines, with a ridge hanging down into the forehead and bands of parallel incised lines placed at regular intervals.

This is sometimes called a "death mask." It is placed above the door to prevent evil spirits from entering.