For their initiation ceremonies, young Kikuyu warriors painted their faces and bodies and wore painted wooden shields called Ndome on the upper part of their arms. (Benitez-Johannot in Benitez et Barbier, Boucliers d'Afrique, d'Asie du Sud-Est et d'Océanie du musée Barbier-Mueller, 1998, p. 116). The chevron patterns adorning the shield were repeated in the initiate’s body paintings. Ndome bracelet-shields were passed on from father to son. According to Dewey (Bassani, Formes et figures. L'art africain dans la collection Horstmann, 2002, p. 252), the older children of a family could also give “their younger brothers their shields, but each new generation of initiates scraped off the old ornamentations to redecorate the shield.” This one stands out for the abstract beauty of its polychromatic decor both on the front and on the back.
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