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The achievements of African tribal art fascinated many European artists and collectors in the 20th century. From André Breton to Picasso, all were seized with a buying fever that quickly spread in the middle. If these sculptures are more of an artistic dimension for Westerners, it is nevertheless through their ritual sacralisation that they reveal themselves for the African peoples. Their ceremonial role confers on them a unique power that distinguishes them from other forms of ethnic art. These works were acquired (sold or offered by natives) throughout the twentieth century by ethnologists on mission or colonial cooperatives to be exhibited in museums, or integrated into prestigious private collections. This is the story of these pieces that we propose to discover through our gallery and our website.

Chokwe Lwena maternity figure
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African art > Maternity, statues, bronze, wood > Luena statue

Sculpture related to the Hamba type of therapeutic cult, embodying a female ancestor, also the second wife of the mythical chief Chibinda Ilunga, who is associated with fertility and healing. These figures were arranged around the muyombo altar, a tree at the foot of which sacrifices and offerings were once performed. Also associated were carvings such as figures made in sticks or poles (Mbunji or mbanji ), planted in the ground. Related ethnic groups had this same type of altar, a witness before which rituals, oaths and important transactions were concluded.
The figure that also illustrates the second wife of the mythical chief Chibinda Ilunga sports a domed hairstyle like a helmet and metal ornaments.
Smooth patina, desiccation cracks.
Peacefully settled in eastern ...

Figure of chef Chokwe Chibinda Ilunga
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African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Tschokwe figure

Ex-collection German African art.

The carved effigy, opposite, glorifies the qualities of hunter, mythical hero and founder of the ethnic group, Chibinda Ilunga. The chief, with oversized palms and feet, has an impressive noble headdress. Easily recognizable thanks to this large headdress with curved side wings (cipenya-mutwe), he had taught his people the art of hunting. This work is distinguished by its various finely chiseled details. Originally, the patinas were obtained through the repeated application of castor oil and coloring vegetable decoctions. Brown mahogany reflections highlight this Chokwe statue. Very good condition. Peacefully settled in eastern Angola until the sixteenth century, the Chokwe were then subjected to the Lunda Empire from which they ...

Lele Mask
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African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Lele Mask

In the category of masks with a relatively flat structure, this Lele mask presents details carved into an elongated face, such as orbits surrounded by grooves and metal bands, a narrow nose and a small tubular mouth. The headdress, in slight relief, is engraved with intertwined lines. Beautiful smooth and lustrous patina, locally encrusted with ochre.
The Lele , neighbors of the Tschokwe and the Pende , live in the west of the Kuba kingdom and share common cultural characteristics with the Bushoong of Kuba country. Both groups adorn their prestige objects with similar motifs. Their society, headed by a " nymi" king, includes three classes, that of the Tundu or war chiefs, the Batshwa ("those who reject the Tundu authority"), and the Wongo called after the neighboring ethnic ...

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Ere Ibeji Yoruba figure
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African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Yoruba figure

Wearing braids organized in an arched crest, this female statuette rising from a circular base has deep scarification, beaded necklaces embellished with grigris and large rings constituting the protective ornaments abiku .
Carved according to the indications of the Ifa transmitted to the diviner, the babalawo, the Ibedji statuettes played the role of substitute for the death of the child. The statuettes are then treated as the missing child would have been. It is the mother who must take care of them; she anoints them with oil and feeds them regularly. If she disappears, the remaining twin takes over. Considered as much more than a physical representation of a loved one. The ibedji statues influence the life of the family, which is why the latter continues to address prayers ...

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Baoule, Baule, Ndoma mask
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African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Baule mask

Collection of French African art.
This African mascotBaoulé, a sculpture called portrait mascot or Ndoma, has a braided hairstyle gathered in shells. The placid physiognomy of the face, with half-open bulbous pupils, is raised by the scarifications named "ngole". Satin patina.
These Baule portrait masks, ndoma, which are part of one of the oldest Baule artistic traditions and frequently represent an idealized character, have the particularity of appearing at the end of entertainment dance ceremonies.These are named, according to the regions, bedwo, ngblo, mblo, adjussu, etc.... Each of these masks are distinguished by hairstyles, placement and choice of scarification. They perform during danced events accompanied by music and songs, celebrations, visits of ...

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Kwele Ekuk Mask, Pipibudze
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African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Kwele Mask

These African masks from the Kwele of Gabon, with a concave, heart-shaped face, have almond-shaped eyes and a triangular nose. Usually hidden, the smiling mouth is drawn here in a thin incision. Depending on the presence of horns and their arrangement, the masks are called pipibudzé , Ekuku zokou , etc...and are associated with ancestors or forest spirits, " ekuk ". Satin patina, erosions.
Tribe of the Kota group, the Kwélé, Bakwélé, live in the forest on the northern border of the Republic of Congo. They live from hunting, agriculture and metallurgy. Practicing the cult called Bwété borrowed from the Ngwyes, which was accompanied by obligatory initiation rites, they used at the end of the ceremonies ekuk masks evoking the antelope whose horns meet in a loop under the ...

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Nzebi inspired mask, Ndzabi
African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Nzebi mask

Originally from the Ogooué region, the Nzebi or Bandjabis settled in southern Gabon and in the Republic of Congo around Mayoko, a region rich in iron ore. The Bwiti, Mwiri, and Ndjobi form their main secret societies. This mask of reduced dimensions, of nzébi inspiration, is characterized by its fine lines and the vertical distribution of its colored zones.
Embodying a spirit of nature or an ancestor, he was supposed to facilitate access to the supernatural world in order to guarantee the benevolence of the powers reigning, according to the group, over the afterlife.
Grainy satin surface.

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Azande/Boa fetish statuette
African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Zande figurine

African art among the Zande.
Very expressionist janiform statuette, with deformed limbs and endowed with a face reproducing the masks of the group. The head has an opening for fetish or therapeutic materials.
Brown satin patina.
Desication cracks, erosions.
Formerly referred to as "Niam-Niam" because they were considered cannibals, the tribes grouped together under the name of Zande, Azandé, settled, coming from Chad, on the border of the DRC (Zaire), Sudan and the Central African Republic. The Zande, or "those who own a lot of land", use two types of statues: Kudu statues with a height between 30 and 50 cm represent ancestors. There are also so-called Yanda statues of 10 to 20 cm, in animal or human form, having an apotropaic role which were exhibited during ...

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Statue "colon" Baule
African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Colon Baoule

Western influences in African art Baoulé .
Commonly called "colon" but sometimes embodying however a type of "ideal spouse" according to individual criteria, this male figure, coated with a polychrome patina softened, is represented in Western dress (African Art Western Eyes, Baule", Vogel, p.253 to 257).
Two types of statues are produced by the baoulé in the ritual context: The Waka-Sona statues, "being of wood" in Baoulé, evoke a assié oussou, being of the earth. They are one of a type of statues intended to be used as medium tools by Komien soothsayers, the latter being selected by the asye usu spirits in order to communicate revelations from beyond. The second type of statues, made according to the indications of the diviner, are the spouses of the beyond, masculine, the ...

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Pipe anthropomoprhe Mangbetu
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African art > African pipes in wood, in bronze > Pipe Mangbetu

Established in the forest in northeastern Zaire, the Mangbetu kingdom has expressed itself through architectural works that impressed European visitors in the 19th century. Their furniture, weapons, adornments and statuary were imbued with a rare aesthetic quality. The Mangbetu story was based on the refinement of his court but also on cannibalistic customs. King Mangbetu Munza was so dubbed The cannibal king. The body lines on the characters, like those of the face, include the traditional paintings of the ethnic group, inspired by the tattoos of the nearby Asua pygmies, and which varied according to the circumstances. Indeed, among the Mangbetu from an early age, upper-class children suffered a compression of the cranial box, held tight by rapia ties. Later, the hair was 'knitted' on ...

Dogon bronze ceremonial box
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African art > Jars, amphoras, pots, matakam > Dogon box

The rider and his mount, symbols of power and wealth since they are rare, are a recurring theme in African art, particularly in Mali.

This ceremonial cup takes up the theme of the mythical ark in the Dogon genesis. Indeed, one of the Nommos , ancestors of the Dogon, resurrected by the creator god Amma , is said to have descended to earth carried by an ark metamorphosed into a horse. Ornamental motifs, such as wavelet friezes and references to the snake, adorn its contours.
Copper brown patina. The Dogon are a people renowned for their cosmogony, myths and legends. Their 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 ...

Vodou Fon Benin Fetish
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African art > The fetish, this emblematic object of primitive art > Vodou Fetish

Strong" objects of the voodoo cult within African art Emerging from a heterogeneous heap of ropes, chains and wooden sticks, this sculpture, of which only the head would appear, remains for the Vodou of Benin an active force, capable of protecting or healing. Ritual crusty coating mixed with indigo pigments.
This botchio (from bo : "evil spell" in Fon, and tchio , "corpse") erected at the top of a pole was set up at the entrance to the village or a house in order to ward off any threat, physical or spiritual. Some of them had minimalist forms, barely sketched around a central trunk. The multitude of fon gods (the vodun), similar to those of the Yoruba under different names, are represented by fetishes of all shapes and nature. Their shrines are found in Togo, ...

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Fon Vodun Fetiche
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African art > The fetish, this emblematic object of primitive art > Fon Vodun Fetiche

As other Fon fetishes, this statue is a wooden structure covered with aggregates mixed with hairs, probably warthogs and primates. The bent forearms make each other join hands. Facial features can still be vaguely distinguished under libations.

In the course of its history, fon art has been imbued with Yoruba and ewe creations according to migration and trade. However, this art cannot be reduced to these two influences. Indeed, the Fon themselves have brought their originality to their statuary.
Voodoo or vodun, a religious cult whose name comes from a variant of the Yoruba word meaning 'god', is found in them in particular.
These statues were therefore used during vodun rituals according to different procedures.
The slave trade on the coast, the term ...

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Ewe fetish statuette
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African art > The fetish, this emblematic object of primitive art > Ewe Fetish

African art and tribal cult vodun of the ewe and fon
Affubé populations of various amulets in the form of jewelry, horns filled with substances mixed with red clay, metal accessories, dried seeds, and reptile skin belt, this realistic statuette was ritually coating with a thick powder coating peeling locally. The pupils are made up of red beads, and one of the feet is altered. Desication cracks, furrows.
In Togo, African fetishes are part of beneficial or evil rituals according to the intentions of their owner. The fetishists, following the divination ritual of the fa using palm nuts, make them to order to offer protective and medicinal virtues but also offer more conventional ready-to-use versions.
These practices are still in use today are sometimes decried and ...

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Teke Tsaayi Kidumu mask
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African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Teke mask

Ex-Belgian African art collection. The pictograms of the African Téké masks from Gabon insist on oppositions symbolizing the duality in the universe: their surface is embellished with geometric patterns painted with polychrome pigments. In addition to lunar symbolism, these pictograms refer to regional body scarifications. It is a plank mask that the wearer held between the teeth using a braided ribbon. The perforations were used to attach feathers and fibers which perfected the harmony of the costume. Matt patina, slight accidents. Only the Tsaayi, among the Téké subgroups of Gabon, produced wooden masks from the mid-20th century. They were used by members of the secret male kidumu brotherhood (kidumu is the name of the society, the dance, and the mask), at the funerals of village ...

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Chokwe Cihongo Mask
African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Tschokwe Mask

br>In the many African masks akishi (sing: mukishi, indicating power) of African tribal art Chokwe, the powerful male counterpart of the Mwana Pwo mask is the cihongo . These masks are danced by itinerant professionals. The characteristic motifs on the forehead, and sometimes on the cheekbones, are part of the chokwe aesthetic canons but also served as public markers of ethnic identity. This recurrent cruciform frontal pattern would also have a cosmogonic significance. Always worn by dancers of royal blood, this mask embodying a spirit symbolizes power and wealth. He also intervened, at times, on occasion judgments. Dark patina maten, abrasions and cracks of desication.
The masks of the Chokwe, Luda, Luvale/Lwena, Luchazi and Mbunda clans are named in Zambia as 'makishi' (sing. ...

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Lega Bwami figure of initiation
African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Lega figure

Sculpture relating to a proverb only known to initiates, this human figure has an erect arm and a stump. This attitude generally symbolizes the appeasement of a quarrel through the arbitration of an individual.
Clear abraded patina.
Desiccation cracks.
The tribal art of the Lega , Balega, or even Warega, is distinguished by its initiation statuettes, some of which were kept in a basket intended for the highest ranking officers of the Bwami from different communities. This type of Iginga tribal art statuette ( Maginga in the plural), was the property of the high-ranking officers of Bwami , a secret society admitting men and their wives, and governing social life. This organization was subdivided into initiatory stages, the highest being the ...

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Idoma Okua mask
African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Idoma mask

Naturalism for this Nigerian mask associated with funerary rites, and whose face coated with white clay bears the traditional keloids in vertical barrette, also present in the Igbos, with protruding cheekbones under ample eye sockets, and an apparent dentition. The ears are raised with red ochre pigment. Flaky, flaking patina.
The Idoma settled at the confluence of the Benue and Niger rivers. Numbering 500,000, they are farmers and traders. The neighborhood and therefore the influences of the Igbo, the ethnic groups of the Cross River and Igala have generated stylistic borrowings and great tribal similarities. The royal lineage members of their society oglinye , glorifying courage, use masks and crests during funerals and festivities. They also produce statues of ...

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Power Figure Teke Buti
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.
Matte patina.
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 ...

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Berber Amazigh necklace
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African art > Jewelry, ornament > Amazigh necklace

Moroccan ornament made up of old threaded pearls and silver, the glass pearls having made formerly function of currency of exchange.
The pearls of this type (Millefiori), out of glass paste, would come from Venice (Murano) in particular, but also from other European countries such as Czechoslovakia. From the 14th century, they were exchanged in the African continent for various goods: gold, ivory, etc... The jewels could also be part of the dowry. Silver clasp.

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Bamileke headdress
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African art > Headdresses and hats, headdresses > Bamileke headdress

Sumptuous Bamileke headdresses in African art.
Prestigious African headdress, worn by notables, this example offers a trim of bright yellow feathers.
It was on the occasion of the elephant dance, tso ,that members of the Kuosi , Kwosi , society wore these impressive headdresses. They were worn over a multicolored costume consisting of a large beaded mask with large circular ears, mbap mteng ,a cloth fabric, ndop , decorated with monkey fur and a leopard belt. These dances were performed during festive ceremonies and funerals. The hats were once made from parrot feathers, now from wild guinea fowl, whose scarcity meant high cost. The feathers are attached to wooden strips covered with fabric, placed around a circular frame consolidated by a basket of wicker fiber. A ...

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