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Lilwa Society Mask
The Lilwa mask at the Snite Museum is truly exceptional, and Owen Mort rightly regarded it as one the finest works in his collection. Smaller and rounder than other known Lilwa masks, the surface is patterned with a raised, curved "X" shape, whose meaning is unclear. This extremely rare mask was designed to be worn, and although no outsider has ever witnessed one like this being worn, there are field reports that suggest several possible functions for it. The mask may have been used to conceal the identity of an executioner, known as the Kumi, when a sentence of death was to be carried out. Such a sentence was carried out immediately following capital trials where the senior-ranking Lilwa members unanimously agreed on the verdict. It may also have been worn during secretive ceremonies when statues were ritually paraded through a village or during rituals of initiation into the Lilwa society.
from Morton, Dimensions of Power (South Bend, 2018)