Body Mask (Kakuungo)

early 20th century

African Art

On view, 1st floor, African Art

This body mask is probably a version of the giant awe-inspiring Kakuungo, who protected the youth in initiation camps from harmful forces. Kakuungo also held great power to heal in the event that complications developed after circumcision. Outside the initiation camps, these masks could intervene during healing rituals, particularly for impotence and sterility. Both protective and menacing, he was an ambivalent masking character. No other example of such a body mask is known; usually Kakuungo masks only consist of an oversize face with exaggerated cheeks and sometimes a prolonged, bulky chin.


Wood, pigment, and wood fiber


37 × 24 × 16 in. (93.98 × 60.96 × 40.64 cm)

Credit Line

Charles B. Benenson, B.A. 1933, Collection

Accession Number



20th century


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.



Philippe Guimiot, Brussels: unknown date-Nov. 19, 1981
Charles B. Benenson Collection, donated to Yale University Art Gallery in 2004

  • Frederick John Lamp, Amanda Maples, and Laura M. Smalligan, Accumulating Histories: African Art from the Charles B. Benenson Collection at the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2012), 304, ill.
  • "Acquisitions, July 1, 2005–June 30, 2006," Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2006): 222.
  • Susan Vogel and Jerry L. Thompson, Closeup: Lessons in the Art of Seeing African Sculpture from an American Collection and the Horstmann Collection, exh. cat. (New York: Museum for African Art, 1990), 170-171, fig. 102.
  • "Guimiot advertisement," Arts d'Afrique Noire (March 1982): advertisment on the back cover.
  • "Guimiot advertisement," African Arts 15, no. 2 (1982): ill. inside back cover, ill.

Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

ceremonial objects, masks (costume)

Technical metadata and APIs


Open in Mirador

View IIIF manifest

The International Image Interoperability Framework, or IIIF, is an open standard for delivering high-quality, attributed digital objects online at scale. Visit to learn more

Linked Art

API response for this object

Linked Art is a Community working together to create a shared Model based on Linked Open Data to describe Art.