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photograph of current display in the Grand Vestibule

A display highlighting the interaction between the monarchy and the wider world


Nimba (or D’mba) (Shoulder helmet mask) c.2005

RCIN 95893

Grand Vestibule, Windsor Castle

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This is a reduced version of a wooden Nimba mask used by the Baga people of Guinea. Full-size headdresses of this type were worn over the shoulders by a dancer during wedding and harvest celebrations. The heavy masks obscured the dancer's face, and were accompanied by a large raffia costume. The stylised female form represents motherhood and femininity, the pendant breasts indicating the nursing of many children. However, the mask’s use was in ceremonies relating to agricultural fertility rather than human fertility.

It was given to Queen Elizabeth II by Paul Goa Zoumanigui, the Ambassador of the Republic of Guinea, during his audience with Her Majesty on the presentation of his Letter of Credence, 11 March 2014.