Kikuyu Shield - Kenya

This wooden, almond shaped shield, known as ndome, was used for ceremonial purposes by the Kikuyu people of central Kenya. Carved from a single piece of wood and pierced in the center, the shield features a circular armband. Kikuyu boys wear the shields on their upper arm as part of their initiation ceremony into manhood (Irua). The geometric designs carved in relief are typically triangular in shape and painted in black, red or white pigment. Many times shields became family heirlooms, handed down through generations, although the designs would be scraped and repainted for each boy preparing for his initiation. The patina and tone of this shield has been softened and nuanced to a thoroughly satisfying degree through years of such reapplications. A beautiful and entrancing example of a classic and much sought after shield type.


Kikuyu
Wood, pigment
H: 23 1/2" W: 18"
#131
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