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Tribal art - African mask:

Dedicated to various functions and uses, the mask is one of the best known pieces of African art. Generally representing a deceased person, it is used to make offerings and to dance on special occasions. African masks come in many shapes, materials and designs.


Punu mask of the Okuyi dance
Tribal art > African mask > Punu mask

Braids organized in shells cover the face of this punu mask devoid of the traditional "mabinda" scarifications. Carved in soft wood, this mask is representative of the African art productions of the Punu. Desiccation cracks, erosions.
The white masks of Gabon, itengi , (pl. Bitengi) were associated with the various secret societies of Gabon, including the Bwiti, Bwete, and the Mwiri ("to lead"), the latter ranging from several levels of initiation, to which all Punu men belonged, and whose emblem was the caiman (hence, for some, the motif with saurian scales). The punu did not involve any mask in the rituals of Bwiti, unlike the Tsogo. This object, evocation of a deceased young woman, was exhibited during the dance called Okuyi. These powerful secret societies, which also ...


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650.00

Dan Zapkei / Gunye ge mask
Tribal art > African mask > Dan mask


Among the most iconic African masks, this sculpture stood out among the eleven types of Dan masks (Fisher and Himmelheber) because of its circularly hollowed out eyes to allow for better vision. These masks named gunye ge "racing masks," with an oval face and slightly concave center, were produced among the northern Dan and intended for participation in racing events. As for the zapkei, they intervene to prevent the spread of domestic fires during the dry seasons. Armed with a stick, they threaten unwary women and confiscate an object as a fine. Some of these masks ,the go ge , provided with a particularly sophisticated braided headdress, were only exceptionally used .
Mask on base : 43 cm
Black patina with a satin touch, granular residual inlays at the top.


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1100.00

Dogon zoomorphic mask
Tribal art > African mask > Dogon mask

Thick, lumpy patina of use for this African animal mask offering outwardly erect ears, a protruding forehead, a blunt nose and a large, toothy grin. Seams resulting from ritual libations. Slight residual pigments, red ochre, additionally appear at the ears under the crusty coating.
Desiccation cracks and abrasions.
The Dogon people are renowned in African tribal art for the myths and beliefs relating to their cosmogony.
The population is estimated at about 300,000 souls living southwest of the Niger loop in the Mopti region of Mali (Bandiagara, Koro, Banka), near Douentza and part of northern Burkina (northwest of Ouahigouya).They produce more than 80 types of masks, the best known of which are the Kanaga , Sirigé , Satimbé , Walu . Most of them are used by ...


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450.00

Hyena Bamana face mask
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Tribal art > African mask > Bamana mask

Beautiful "V" geometry for this African animal mask associated with the secrets of the bush, endowed with a rectilinear machoîre. Between the horns, a prominence evokes the tuft of hair removed after the death of the animal. Deep dark patina, glossy, abraded on the reliefs. Established in central and southern Mali, in a savannah area, the Bambara, "Bamana" or "unbelievers", as the Muslims have named them, belong to the large Mande group, along with the Soninke and the Malinke. Mostly farmers, but also breeders, they make up the largest ethnic group in Mali. Groups of Bambara artisans nyamakala , more specifically the blacksmiths named numu , are in charge of sculpting ritual objects, endowed with nyama , occult energy. Using fire and magical objects, the role of healer and diviner ...


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Babanki / Bamoun helmet mask
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Tribal art > African mask > Elephant mask

Elephant mask with large concave ears, which was worn horizontally. The dancers of the Kuosi society, to which the nobles and warriors belonged, mimicked the charge of the animal during the choreography. The surface is plated with metal sheets decorated with floral motifs.
The Babanki live in the north of the region called Cameroonian Grasslands . Their neighbors are the Kom, Wum and Bali. Under the influence of Fulani invaders, many of them converted to Islam. They revere the ancestors who are said to be embodied in the skulls held by the elders of each lineage. The Grasslands brotherhoods use zoomorphic masks, some decorated with beads, called buffalo masks, and beaded hoods also representing the elephant. The elders are said to have the power to transform themselves ...

Lega Bwami mask
Tribal art > African mask > Lega mask

br>Within the Lega, the Bwami society open to men and women,organized social and political life. There were up to seven levels of initiation, each associated with emblems. Following their exodus from Uganda during the seventeenth century, the Lega settled on the west bank of the Lualaba River in the DRC. Also known as Warega, they live in self-contained villages surrounded by palisades, usually on hilltops. The role of chief, kindi, is held by the oldest man in the clan, who must be the highest ranking. As in other forest tribes, the men hunt and clear land while the women cultivate cassava. Social recognition and authority had to be earned individually: the chief owed his selection to his heart (mutima), good character, intelligence, and impeccable behavior. During ritual ceremonies, ...


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290.00

Luvale / Mbunda mask
Tribal art > African mask > Luvale mask

The masks of the Chokwe, Luda, Luvale/Lwena, Luchazi and Mbunda clans are called "makishi" (sing. likishi) in Zambia. This name comes from "kishi", a Bantu concept that evokes the manifestation of a spirit or ancestor. These agents of social, moral and spiritual order, forming a panel of different characteristics, sociable, aggressive, or unpredictable, embody the spirit of an illustrious ancestor (male or female), their appearance is mainly manifested during the rites of mukanda, including circumcision, during which their true identity must remain hidden from the eyes of the layman. Their accessories and behavior, depending on the case, symbolize moral values, emphasize fertility, or parody strangers.
Of Lunda origin, the Lwena emigrated from Angola to Zaire in the 19th ...


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480.00

Bembé Ibulu lya alunga mask
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Tribal art > African mask > Bembe mask

Two pairs of eye sockets, under which a tiny nose and a hole indicating a mouth point, make up this African mask forming two faces. A thick raffia ornament adorns the base, while a panel of cloth conceals the wearer's neck.
This African mask Ibulu lya 'alunga (head of the alunga) was used during the tribal ritual of the male society Alunga, exercising social control over the clan , and responsible for public dances and ceremonies preceding the hunt.
Evocation of a forest spirit, this tribal mask was kept in sacred caves and it was during the festivals associated with the hunt and ancestor cults that it was displayed.
It also appeared during the circumcision ceremonies of the Bwami. Semi-satin patina, kaolin residue.
The Bembe ethnic group is a ...

Mossi helmet mask
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Tribal art > African mask > Mossi Mask

Incarnating a spirit, this mossi mask has a summit ridge between two curved horns extended by a bird's beak. The geometric patterns on which it is decorated are enhanced by a polychrome patina, attenuated and chipped by time. The black patina was originally obtained from charcoal and gum pods. The holder of the mask and his family worshipped the object through offerings such as millet beer, while invoking its protection.
The Mossi masks, personal or lineage, are an incarnation of guardian spirits offering their support. They perform at funerals, at the funerals of clan leaders, protect crops. True altars without their costume, they can receive libations such as millet beer in order to honor the ancestors. Their appearance is now common during entertainment shows. Upper Volta, ...


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Ogoni Chosen Mask, Ekpo, with articulated jaw
Tribal art > African mask > Ogoni mask

Attached with a wicker clamp, the lower jaw of this mask embodying an ancestor or a high-ranking character, can be articulated, revealing wooden sticks representing a dentition.
Two-tone satin patina. Abrasions.


The Ogoni live along the coast of Nigeria, near the mouth of the Cross-River, south of the Igbo and west of the Ibibio. Their carvings vary from village to village, but are primarily renowned for their jointed jaw masks such as some Ekpo Ibibio masks. Their masks were usually worn at funerals, festivities accompanying planting and harvesting, but also more recently to welcome distinguished guests. Acrobatic demonstrations linked to the karikpo celebration, and accompanied by the kere karikpo drum, were additionally an opportunity to display various ...

Pende Mbuya mask
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Tribal art > African mask > Pende mask

This African mask of initiation, Mbuya, emanates from the Pende of the West whose Yaka influence is notable in the slightly upturned nose facture.
Featuring large slit eyes, it recalls the Pende custom of not staring in public. This African Pende mask sports a headdress made of cloth and raffia fibers extended with a cloth hood, and a chin strap.
Total height on base: 46 cm.
The Western Pende live on the banks of the Kwilu, while the Eastern Pende have settled on the banks of the Kasai downstream from Tshikapa. The influences of the neighboring ethnic groups, Mbla, Suku, Wongo, Leele, Kuba, and Salampasu have been imprinted on their extensive tribal art sculpture. Within this diversity the Mbuya masks, realistic, produced every ten years, have a festive ...


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Mangbetu Crest Mask
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Tribal art > African mask > Mangbetu Mask

African cephalomorphic mask of the Mangbetu people, topped with the traditional flared coiffure, and equipped with ears and a nose pierced with a ring. The lower contours are edged with a thick raffia fringe. Veined oiled wood. Erosions. Satin patina.
The geometric patterns evoke the body paintings and tribal scarification of the Mangbetu, similar to those of the Asua pygmies with whom the tribe had relations. The latter varied according to circumstances. The Mangbetu had a fan-shaped hairstyle: from a very young age, children had their skulls compressed with raffia ties. Later, the Mangbetu would "knit" their hair on wicker strands and apply a headband to the forehead in order to extract the hair and produce this particular hairstyle which accentuates the lengthening of the ...


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Portrait mask Ndoma Baule
Tribal art > African mask > Baoule mask

Former Baoulé figurative mask called portrait mask or Ndoma , with an atypical character, and whose unique scarifications form "cat whiskers" at the corners of the lips.
Beautiful satin patina of use.
Small accidents.
These African masks portraits of the Baoulé, ndoma , which are part of one of the oldest Baoulé artistic traditions and frequently represent an idealized character, have the particularity of manifesting themselves in the end of the entertainment dance ceremonies, which are named, depending on the region, bedwo , ngblo , mblo , adjussu < / i>, etc .... Each of these masks are distinguished by the hairstyles, the location and the choice of scarifications. They perform during dance events accompanied by music and songs, celebrations, ...


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490.00

Dan Tankaglé mask
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Tribal art > African mask > Dan mask

This African dan mask is equipped with a headdress embroidered with cowrie shells and extended by numerous fiber mats. The face is lined with textile, seed beads and raffia. The dancer wearing this mask is called takanglé. It is following dreams in which the spirits manifested themselves that the masks were sculpted according to precise indications in order to be honored through their appearances. The Dan also carve, still according to the indications of the diviner, miniature masks on the model of the large masks. They are worn as amulets by children. The Dan masks, of varied workmanship, are generally performed during very theatrical entertainment festivals where women play a predominant role. The "mocking" mask called Déanglé defines an ideal of beauty and benevolence ...


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Tschokwe crest
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Tribal art > African mask > Chokwe crest

br>According to the former owner of this carving, it was used among the Chokwe during circumcision ceremonies incorporating the initiation rites of passage to adulthood, the mukanda , which they held on their heads. Very strangely, however, its design is reminiscent of the ritual aerophones isumba mulimu of the Nande. The object is not hollowed out, however. Abraded matte patina.
Peacefully settled in eastern Angola until the 16th century, the Chokwe were then subjected to the Lunda empire from which they inherited a new hierarchical system and the sacredness of power. Nevertheless, the Chokwe never fully adopted these new social and political contributions. Three centuries later, the Chokwe eventually took over the capital of the Lunda, which had been weakened by internal ...


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Fang Ngil Large helmet mask
Tribal art > African mask > Fang mask

This African Fang mask illustrates one of the variants of the Fang masks of the Ngil, that is to say, a stretched face in which the assertive features give an austere physiognomy. The nose is long, drawing the eye to a wide mouth with pursed lips. Surface coated with kaolin. The scars are raised with red ochre.
The appearance of these masks, generally coated with kaolin (the white color evokes the power of the ancestors), in the middle of the night, could cause fear. This type of mask was used by the Ngil male society which no longer exists today. This secret society was in charge of initiations and fought against witchcraft. The ngil was a rite of purifying fire symbolized by the gorilla. The bearers of these masks, always in large numbers, appeared at night, lit by ...


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650.00

Luba Kifwebe mask
Tribal art > African mask > Luba mask

Emblematic of the sculpture of the Lubas of the east along the Luvua River (D.R.C.), this type of African mask of semi-globular structure presents similarities with the masks of the Songye. However, they did not have the same function. These African masks are called "bifwebe". They appeared during funerals and investitures. The surface is decorated with streaks coated with white clay. Two-tone patina.
These masks appeared during the ritual ceremonies of the kazanzi society, responsible for fighting witchcraft. "Bifwebe" (Sing.: kifwebe) would moreover mean, according to C. Faïk-Nzuji, "to chase death". Worn with a voluminous ruff of raffia and animal skins that concealed the dancer, these masks were generally danced in the company of a zoomorphic mask. For the Luba, white ...


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490.00

Sukuma Tanzanie mask
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Tribal art > African mask > Sukuma mask

African mask from Tanzania, associated with the dance ceremonies of the dry season, with a face covered with linear scarifications. Sticks representing teeth were previously inlaid in the wood. Satin patina.
Cracks from desiccation.
Height on base: 43 cm. In the southern coastal region of Tanzania, around Dar-es-Salam, a relatively homogeneous group has produced the bulk of artistic output. It includes the Swahili, Kaguru, Doé, Kwéré, Luguru, Zaramo, Kami. The second region is formed by a territory covering the south of Tanzania to Mozambique, where some Makonde and Yao, Ngindo, Mwéra, and Makua live. In northeastern Tanzania, the Chaga, Paré, Chamba, Zigua, Maasai, Iraqw, Gogo, and Héhé have an artistic production with similarities to Malagasy and Batak art, which ...


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Chokwe mask
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Tribal art > African mask > Tschokwe mask

Ex-collection African art from Belgium.
The Tschokwe, in African tribal art , have a male association, the mukanda, which makes use of some thirty African masks , made of wood, related to ancestors, for various social purposes: the cikugu mask, the cihongo, the pwo mask, kalelwa, cikunza. They were also joined with colorful cotton cloth and often also various small objects. The abundant braided headdress is a specificity of Chokwe masks. However, this example does not have the usual motifs linked to the group's scarifications, only the oblique lines, symbolizing tears, are perceptible on the cheeks. Height on base: 48 cm. Velvety black patina, cracked.
The Tschokwe, of Bantu culture, had established themselves in the east of Angola, but also in Congo and ...


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Epa Yoruba Ekiti mask
Tribal art > African mask > Yoruba mask

The Ekiti of the northeastern part of the Yoruba region use African masks polychrome heaumes associated with the Epa cult, illustrating the prosperity of the community.
They appear at funerals or rites of passage.
The base of the janiform mask, named ikoko, is topped by a tray on which a female figure kneels surrounded by miniature subjects. The release of these masks, which will have been painted by their owners, takes place every two years. Despite the weight of the masks, the dancers perform spectacular acrobatic demonstrations. These ceremonies are also supposed to increase fertility.
Grainy polychrome patina, abrasions and desiccation cracks.
The Yoruba, more than 20 million, occupy southwestern Nigeria and the central and southeastern region of Benin ...


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650.00

Lele / Kuba flat mask
Tribal art > African mask > Lele mask

This flat African mask, on which fine and regular lines are inscribed, is coated with ochre tukula powder.
Abraded matt patina. Height on base: 41 cm.
The Lele , neighbors of the Tschokwe and Pende, live in the west of the Kuba kingdom and share cultural specificities with the Bushoong of Kuba country. Both groups adorn their prestige objects with similar motifs. Their society, led by a king " nymi ", includes three classes, that of the Tundu or war chiefs, the Batshwa ("those who reject the Tundu authority") and the Wongo named after the neighboring ethnic group. The ritual ceremonies are under the authority of the elders, chiefs of each village who hold the secrets of medicinal plants. These elders once formed, with the parents of twins, spiritual ...


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390.00





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