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African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Dogon figure
Figure remarkable for its stretched forms along which run long slender arms. The neck offers a twist, taking the gaze past the shoulder. A few anatomical details enliven the tubular bust. The sculpture could form the top of a stick.
Dry dark patina, imprint of locally agglomerated blackish residues.
Desication cracks. Gaps and erosions.
Carved for the most part on order placed by a family, Dogon statues can also be the object of worship on the part of the whole community when they commemorate, for example, the foundation of the village. However, their functions remain little known.
Alongside Islam, Dogon religious rites are organized around four main cults: the Lébé, relating to fertility, under the spiritual authority of the Hogon, the Wagem, cult of the ancestors ...
African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Lulua Mask
African mask in miniature version, fitted with ample arcades pierced with orifices, which, according to certain authors, would represent smallpox scars. Held in the hand, or kept as talismans, this type of reduced mask played its role during circumcision rituals and at the funerals of notables. Black satin patina, minimal abrasions.
Height on base: 21 cm.
Lulua is a generic term, which refers to a large number of heterogeneous peoples who inhabit the region near the Lulua River, between the Kasaï and Sankuru rivers. The Lulua people migrated from West Africa during the 18th century and settled in the southern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire). In 1875, King Lulua, Kalambam, introduced new social and religious rules, which put an end to the ...
African art > Coins in bronze, black iron and other materials > Cameroon currency
The Matakam also called Mafa form a population of Central Africa, especially present in the extreme north of Cameroon, also in Nigeria.
In Africa, before the colonial period, payments were never made in coins. Transactions were made using cowries, pearls, cattle, kola nuts, but also metals, especially iron. These primitive currencies were used during commercial and social exchanges, for dowries in particular, but could also constitute objects of parade or throwing weapons.
African art > Bronze, leopard, messenger, warrior, statue, pirogues > Sao Bronze
Used as an amulet credited with apotropaic virtues, this small bronze sculpture constitutes, for the Sao, a talisman supposed to protect them from madness. It is therefore worn permanently.
The genius who possesses the madman is represented by the rider, the horse representing the victim. This horseman wearing a cheche rides an equine which was a rare attribute of prestige in these regions of the Sahel.
The Sao, ancestors of the Kotoko, were established between the 12th and 14th centuries in a geographical area extending over the borders between Chad, northern Cameroon and Nigeria. They established themselves on hills, which enabled them to repel invaders.
Subjected to successive attacks from their neighbors in Kanem and then to hordes from the East, the Sao had to abandon their ...
African art > African Shield > Zulu Shield
African Art Zulu.
This Zulu dance shield, equipped with a handle, offers a geometric, rectilinear shape. The surface is hollowed out with parallel streaks in duotone.
During the 19th century, tribes united to form the group called Zulu, whose local chiefs, led by the king, are called iduma. Their society is that of warriors organized into age groups. It was in 1884 that they were annexed by the English.
Skilled in making ornaments, the Zulus work with leather, metal and ceramics, adding feathers and beads.
Matte patina, minor abrasions.
African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Kongo mask
Attribute of the nganga,, priest-seer, this African mask offers hollowed out pupils emphasizing the mediumistic capacities that the Kongo thought they favored by taking hallucinogenic substances. This type of mask was called ngobudi in reference to something dreadful, terrorizing.
Abraded matte patina, indigo highlights, erosions.
These mediating masks, also present in initiation processes, were used by witch doctors during healing rituals. At the same time, they were also used to identify individuals who, through their actions, could disturb the harmony of the community.
In the 13th century, the Kongo people, led by their king Ne Kongo, settled in a region at the crossroads of the borders between the current DRC, Angola and Gabon. The "ntotela" king controlled the appointment ...
African art > Bronze, leopard, messenger, warrior, statue, pirogues > Bénin Statue
Late sculpture of the Edo type, in bronze alloy. It features a seated dignitary, which could represent the Oba Ewuakpe who was forced to wear a European helmet after being deprived of his prerogatives because of a rebellion.
Black abraded patina.
Before the destruction of the palace of the kingdom of Benin in 1897, the divine character of the kings, the Oba, was illustrated by multiple works celebrating their power. War scenes were reproduced on narrative plaques, in bronze, and affixed to the walls. Sumptuous bronze altars, commemorative figures of deceased chiefs, heavy bracelets, anklets and recades were produced in quantity in many foundry workshops using the lost wax casting technique. The numerous brass heads and statues created by the artists of Benin were reserved for the ...
African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Obamba Mask
A remarkably refined mask divided into areas of contrasting colors, on which discreet lines indicate a human face. The eyebrow ridges underlined in black, sharp on the light kaolin patina or colored with padouk bark, form an element common to the fang, pové, kwélé and tsogho groups. The obamba mask and the adouma mvudi mask are similar in appearance.
Velvety matte patina, erosions.
The Mahongwe, Obamba, Shamayé and Sango form with the Kota a group with similar rites and society. It is in the eastern part of Gabon that they live among the forests. Some crossed the Congo border after going up the sources of the Ogooué.
African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Teke statue
Statue biteke (sculpted figure) embodying an ancestor of the clan. His hollow bust must have housed the magical charge called " Bonga " or "bilongo", which was generally fixed or concealed by a textile. This symbolism refers to the Téké belief that the abdomen conceals wisdom. These fetishes were placed on the altars of the chiefs.
Established between the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo and Gabon, the Téké were organized into chiefdoms, the chief of which was often chosen from among the blacksmiths. The head of the family, mfumu , had the right of life or death over his family, the importance of which determined his prestige. The chief of the clan, ngantsié , kept the great protective fetish tar mantsié which ...
African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Statue Kifwebe
This statue depicts a dancer, a member of the secret society Bwadi Bwa Kifwébé , in a state of transse bwadi, dressed in a braided suit and a natural fiber adornment attached to the contours of the female-style mask. The skirt is made of animal skin, on which remains a little fur. The appearance of this masked dancer is intended to increase fertility. The arms are mobile.
This variants of this mask Kifwebe (pl. Bifwebe) or 'chasing death' (Roberts), from the society of the same name, stand out: the masculine (kilume) usually with a high crest, the feminine (kikashi) with a very low crest or absent, and finally the greatest embodying power (kia ndoshi). This type of mask, still used today, appears to come from the border area between the northern Luba and the Southeastern Songye. The ...
African art > Spoons, ladles > Dan Spoon
Everyday objects in African art .
Dan tribal art also produces utilitarian and prestigious objects, including the famous carved wooden spoons, Wakemia, used during festive ceremonies, and granted by the villagers to a particularly generous and hospital. The woman will use it to serve the meal and will wave it happily during the "hospitable woman's dances". The spoon often has an anthropomorphic handle, in this case an extended female bust of bent, curved legs. The cuilleron is decorated with traditional body scarifications. Satin black patina. Missing around the edge.
For the Dan of Côte d'Ivoire, also called Yacouba, two very distinct universes oppose each other: that of the village, made up of its inhabitants, its animals, and that of the forest, its vegetation and the ...
African art > African Dolls > Mossi doll
Fertility statuette of very schematic design, the appearance of the head of which varies according to the region. It evokes a spirit with which a relationship is established. The tubular bust, slightly bulging at the level of the abdomen, has a flat chest. The angular, stylized head evokes the female crest hairstyle, the parallel incisions, the scarifications and the braids of the ethnic group. Beautiful heterogeneous brown patina, lustrous, locally abraded. Minimal cracking.
The use of dolls by young African women is not exclusively within the initiatory context. When menstruation begins, the girl is considered a potential mother. In many ethnic groups, the search for fertility is then done by means of initiation rites. Wooden figures will then be carved, some reflecting both ...
African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Dowayo Statue
The dolls of the Namji or Dowayo , people of mountain animists living in the north of Cameroon, have recently been known. These effigies represent the human body in stylized elementary forms.
The umbilicus of the tubular bust is here encrusted with a cowrie in the center of a cup underlined with a red cotton cord. As an extension of a stretched neck, the inclined face, flat and circular, bears scarifications, like the bust. Small arms are made of beads and cowries.
Cracked grainy patina.
These African tribal dolls are carved in wood by the blacksmith, initially for the play of little girls. But these dolls are mainly used by sterile women in complex fertility rituals, the doll becoming a surrogate child that they will treat as such. In some cases the groom offered it to ...
African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Banda Statuette
Small stylized figure whose barrel bust, surmounting the arc of stubby legs, offers arms arranged in a triangle, a frequent detail of the Ubangian region. The functions of these statuettes are comparable to those of the Ngbaka of the Mani-Yanda society, within the framework of therapeutic rites or in preparation before the hunts. Brown satin patina. Minor cracks, slight loss.
The banda group, Mbanza, Mabanja, or Banza, made up of about fifty sub-groups, dispersed in Sudan, southern Chad, the Central African Republic, and the North-West of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It has various initiatory associations dedicated to spirits and uses sculptures. Banda sculptural traditions have influenced the ethnic groups of Ubangui, Zande, Ngbandi, Ngbaka....
Ref. : "Art of ...
African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Banda statue
Three rectangular excrescences rise from the top of this sculpture treated in flat and globular volumes, featuring a character flanked by surrealist attributes.
Velvety patina, erosions.
The banda group, made up of about fifty sub-groups, has dispersed in Sudan, southern Chad, the Central African Republic, and the northwest of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It has various initiatory associations dedicated to spirits and uses sculptures. Banda sculptural traditions have influenced the ethnic groups of Ubangui, Zande, Ngbandi, Ngbaka... Like the Ngbaka, sculpted effigies representing a couple, Seto and Nabo, intervene during the worship dedicated to the ancestors. Statues named Bekimi are associated with therapeutic rites, while "himbia" sculptures are believed to protect and ...
African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Hemba statue
This Hemba sculpture commemorating a local chief, an intermediary between men and the gods, stands out by its physiognomy and its attitude, which shows a certain serenity.
A diadem composed of a succession of bars delimits the largely shaven head. A sophisticated headdress ends at the back of the head in a cruciform element. The face is embellished with a fine crenellated beard, evoking the wisdom and experience of the forefather.
Usually made of iroko, these ritual sculptures were venerated by a particular clan and stored in a burial space in the chief's house.
Dull grayish brown patina. Desiccation cracks, and numerous erosions.
The Hemba, established in southeastern Zaire on the right bank of the Lualaba River, were for a long time subject to the ...
African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Songye Fetish
The result of cooperation between the nganga, the sculptor and the client, the statuette was loaded with bishimba elements intended to reinforce its action. It was introduced at the top of the head of this example, and fragments of textile were tied around the sculpture.
Pinkish beige matte patina, abrasions and cracks and losses.
The fetish Songye, magic sculpture Nkisi, nkishi (pl. mankishi), plays the role of mediator between gods and men. The large specimens are the collective property of an entire village, the smaller figures belong to an individual or a family. In the 16th century, the Songyes migrated from the Shaba region to settle in Kasai, Katanga and South Kivu. Their history is inseparable from that of the Luba, to whom they are related through common ...
African art > African Dolls > Fali Doll
This African fertility doll symbolizes the marriage vows and the child that will be born from this union. It is the fiancé who makes it and decorates it with multiple trinkets before offering it to the young woman. A wooden structure surmounted by a head is wrapped in fragments of leather and draped with multiple necklaces of pearls, associated with small talisman sachets.
The Kirdi , or "pagans", as the Islamized peoples have called them, are established in the far north of Cameroon, on the border with Nigeria.
They include the Matakam, Kapsiki, Margui, Mofou, Massa, Toupouri, Fali, Namchi, Bata, Do ayo... They live from agriculture, fishing and animal husbandry.
Among the Fali, ancestor worship is illustrated by the great importance given to the skulls of the deceased, ...