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African art items:

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.

Baule Kplé kplé mask
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African art > African mask > Baoule Mask

This circular African mask, known as " junior", with a raised grid surface, has small triangular incisions indicating the pupils and a rectangular mouth. reference to the image Horns, flanked by small zoomorphic ears, meet in a bow at the top. The female mask kplekple, according to some authors (African Barbier-Mueller Masks, p.116) is red. Vogel (Baule) indicates, however, that in the Baoulé version of the Goli the male mask is painted red, and the feminine is painted black. It is likely that this allocation varies from village to village. This form copy yet one of the many variations in shades of burgundy red, midnight blue and dark brown. Abraded matte surface.
Generally the manifestation of a series of masks of the Family " Goli ", this circular mask with rounded horns ...

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Masque Kumu Nsembu
African art > African mask > Komo Mask

The Kumu , Bakumu, Komo, live mainly in the North-East and Central Congo. Their Bantu language is komo or kikomo. Several ethnic groups are closely intertwined, with similar associations: the Mbole, the Yela, the Lengola, and the Metoko. Their artistic production also has great similarities with that of the Metoko and Lengola. Their divination masks were displayed at the closing ceremonies of the initiation and circumcision of the young people of society nkunda . It is in fact in the Region of Maniema around the Lualaba River and the Great Lakes that the Lega sculpture has exerted its influence. This flat mask, very rare, whose forehead and nose form the only relief adopts simple gaping orifices for the organs of the eyes and mouth. A suit made up of bark textiles and vegetable fibres ...

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Masque League
African art > African mask > Masque League

An ovoid volume shared by a nose whose extension on the forehead opens into horns. The circular eyes and mouth, simply hollowed out, give a strange appearance to this Lega mask. This African mask indicated the stage that its holder had reached within the Bwami, a learning society composed of different ranks, and which were joined by wives whose spousehad reached the third level, that of the ngandu . Abraded patina, beard of vegetable fibers.
Within the Léga, 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 in the 17th century, the Lega settled on the west bank of the Lualaba River in the DRC. Also called Warega, these individuals live in ...

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Primary couple figures Dogon in bronze
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African art > African bronze > Statues Dogon

These alt-like figures embody the primordial couple Nommos behind the creation of the Dogon of Mali. Evoking Giacometti's sculptures, these bronze statues are frozen in a marching motion. A succession of notches punctuate the graceful bodies.
Patine with green grey reflections. The Dogons are a people renowned for their cosmogony, esotericism, 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 of Ouahigouya). Villages are often perched atop the scree at the edge of the hills, according to a unique architecture. The history of migration and the facilities of the Dogon (about ten main groups, fifteen different languages), ...

Double Bamileke Ritual Bell
African art > Usual african items > Bamileke Currency

Weapons, jewelry, coins, metal objects are inseparable from traditional African art. Metallurgy is intimately associated with the founding myths of many African cultures, such as blacksmiths turned kings (Zaire), the anvil hammer being the symbol of power among the Luba. Cult accessories, the metal alloy gongs, some highly decorated, take on a wide variety of shapes. This double gong, in its simplicity, was a sacred instrument and the emblem of one of the many male societies of the peoples of Grassland, the Kwifoyn, whose headquarters adjoined the royal palace. The tinkling of wooden rods on hollow metal announced the beginning of ceremonies: communication with the supernatural world, ancestors, deities, could be established. Also prestigious objects, they accompanied the respect due to ...

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Zaouli Dance Gouro Gu Mask
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African art > African mask > Gouro Mask

An anthropomorphic face combined with zoomorphic elements, a stage that offers three seated characters, established on the summit plateau. This mask carved from dense wood, embodying a spirit of nature, is enhanced by a polychrome peeling and an oiled black patina. Among the group of Mande from the south, in central Côte d'Ivoire, the Gouro have been using a family of African masks associated with the Zaouli dance since the 1950s. Like the Goli masks of the Baoulé, all Guro masks come in two zoomorphic masks followed by a third anthropomorph, which is considered the wife of the mask zamblé, the Gu . The Gu , whose function is apotropaic, represents a young woman with the criteria of beauty specific to Guro, especially facial scarifications and lime teeth. It is by singing in honor ...

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Okuyi Dance Punu Mask
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African art > African mask > New product

Refining African masks of Okuyi dances. The white masks of Gabon, itengi, (pl. bitengi) were associated with the various secret societies of Gabon, including the Bwiti, Bwete , and the Mwiri ("le"), the latter spanning several levels of initiation, to which belonged to all the Punu men, and whose emblem was the caiman. The Punu did not involve any masks in the rituals of the Bwiti, unlike the Tsogo. These powerful secret societies, which also had a judicial function, included several dances, including the leopard dance, the Esomba , the Mukuyi, and the acrobatic dance of the okuyi , on stilts, remainthe most widespread. This face mask, evoking a deceased woman, the white evoking purity, the world of the afterlife, was exhibited during the dance named Okuyi. In addition to the double ...

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Masque Lega
African art > African mask > African mask

This Lega mask is used during the initiation rites of the Bwami society. It is open to men and women. The passage of a rank indicated the acquisition of a certain individual wisdom and morality. Bicolored, it offers sculpted heart orbits, a straight nasal ridge and a narrow mouth lodged in the chin space. Small tubular eyes give a hypnotic look. Grainy, flaky kaolin skate.
Within the Léga, 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 in the 17th century, the Lega settled on the west bank of the Lualaba River in the DRC. Also called Warega, these individuals live in self-contained villages surrounded by palisades, usually on top of hills. The ...

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Kongo Phemba Maternity
African art > African Statues > Statue of Congo

A subgroup of the Kongo , the Yombe, based on the west coast of Africa, in the south-west of the Republic of Congo and in Angola, are characterized by a statuary in which various figures of motherhood abound: round headdresses or pointed, mouth open on slender teeth, sometimes glazed gaze in which the pupils are clearly visible, characters kneeling, standing, sitting. Relief scarifications adorn the bust of the effigies, such as the bust of this Phemba statue. These cuts, made using needles, knives and razors, were then sprayed with coal or ash to accelerate healing. The mother sits in a suit on a circular base, an infant on her lap. The distinctive elements of the Kongo are the cheffal cap "mpu", the wearing of bracelets and a band compressing the chest. This mediating object was used ...

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Fetish Téké Matomba
African art > African fetish > Statue Teke

Four statuettes have a common, spherical trunk, in which the magic charge named " Bonga " or "bilongo" is wrapped in different textiles. The faces are wearing a conical, rimmed hat, highlighted with a red cloth. Satin brown patina, abrasions and desication crack. Established between the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo and Gabon, the Téké were organized as chiefdoms, the leader of which was often chosen among the blacksmiths. The head of the family, mfumu , had the right to life or death over his family whose importance determined his prestige. The clan leader, ngantsié , kept the great protective fetish tar mantsié which oversaw all ceremonies. It is the powerful sorcerer-healer and soothsayer who loaded the individual statuettes with magical elements, for a fee. It ...

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Kran loom pulley
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African art > Usual african items > Kran Chicken

In Côte d'Ivoire, but also in Liberia, the most ordinary objects had to meet aesthetic criteria. Furniture, ornaments, utensils, fabrics, are pretext for a refined artistic expression on the part of sculptors. The cotton weaving technique has spread to West Africa thanks to the displacements of the Dioulas. Prior to colonization, cotton-fibre textiles, the latter described as " white gold", were also used as a bargaining chip. Prestigious adornments, the woven ceremonial loincloths, sometimes in large numbers, accompanied the chefs in their tomb, among the Kuba, but also among the Baoulé.
This pulley is adorned with an abstract face with protruding curved elements reminiscent of some Kran/Dan masks. Dark brown grainy patina.
In this region of western Côte d'Ivoire, adjacent to ...

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Lega introductory statuette
African art > African Statues > League Statues

The African art of the Lega , Balega, or Warega , is distinguished by its introductory statuettes, also made of ivory, some of which were kept in a basket intended for the highest rank of bwami of different Communities. This type of statuette of tribal art Iginga ( Maginga plural), was the property of the high-ranking officers of the Bwami , a secret society admitting men and their wives, and governing social life. This organization was subdivided into initiation stages, the highest being the Kindi.Following their exodus from Uganda in the 17th century, the Lega settled on the west bank of the Lualaba River in the DRC. Also called Warega, these individuals live in self-contained villages surrounded by palisades, usually on top of hills. The role of the leader, kindi , is held by the ...

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Gbekre Mouse Oracle Box Se Baoulé
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African art > Usual african items > Baoule mousebox

Ex Italian African art collection. Aimed at a practice still in use today in the baoulé region of the south-west, the object consists of a mediating tutelary figure, visibly in meditation, standing in front of a circular receptacle and connected to the lid of the box by a rope in plant fibres. The lid is engraved with parallel lines arranged in diamonds, the receptacle has in its lower part a circular frieze open. A mouse, considered a messenger of the earth's deities, lived in the lower compartment of the object and the successive arrangement of the elements it moved was read as an answer to the soothsayer's question. The part also has a conveyor belt. The metal plate, under the box, has been fitted and punctured so that the mice are in contact with the spirits of the earth, asié. ...

Kongo Yombe Mask
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African art > African mask > Kongo Mask

Ex-Swiss African art collection.
This African mask was the prerogative of the nganga, soothsayer. His psychic abilities, which the Kongo thought they fostered through the taking of hallucinogenic substances, were revealed by the eyes of the hollowed-out pupils. Her tribal hairstyle is accentuated by a braided red cotton headband. These types of masks were called ngobudi in reference to a terrible, terrifying thing. The crusty surface reveals remnants of white and red polychrome coatings. These mediating masks, also present in initiation processes, were used by fetishists during healing rituals. At the same time, they were also used to identify individuals who, through their actions, could disrupt the harmony of the community. In the 13th century, the Kongo people, led by their king ...

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Marotte monkey Bulu, Boulou
African art > Puppets > Head Boulou

Ex-collection Swiss tribal art.
Ngil's marottes in African art

This handlescephalmorphic marotte embodies the spirit of an anthropoid monkey, with deep orbits under a skull in a cap. The neck could then be lined with cloth, raffia, and the groundhog came alive to the sound of the drum. At the top, wood was discreetly removed and replaced to introduce a magical ritual charge. The irregular surface has burgundy brown satin areas. Greenish residual pigments around the eyes.
Situated between Cameroon and Gabon, in the equatorial forest, the Boulou are part of the Fang ensemble. Neighbouring Kweles also have a mask featuring a gorilla called Gong. Like the Fangs of South Cameroon famous for their large white masks, the Boulou practiced the Ngil ritual to combat ...

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Kasai Kuba Shoowa Velvet
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African art > African Textile > Textile Cuba

The African art and refinement of the Weaving KubaProducts in Zaire by the Shoowa, Bashoowa, subgroup Kuba , these fabrics forming real first art paintings, consist of a raffia textile base on which threads are cut to the brim, forming a velvet effect accentuated by contrasts of tone. The geometric patterns formed represent the bodily scarifications of the ethnic group or the decorations of the sculptures. These refined fabrics were intended to be used at the royal court, as a seat or cover, to enhance its prestige. They in many cases took value of money, or also followed their owners into the grave by covering the body of the deceased. It was King Shamba Bolongongo who introduced the technique of velvet weaving to the Kuba country in the 17th century. He had previously introduced the ...

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Masque facial Kwele Ekuk
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African art > African mask > Kwele Mask

Trichromy for this African Kwele mask with a central face, pointed, framed with horns. These gabonese masks with a concave face, in the heart, have almond eyes and a triangular nose. Generally concealed, the mouth is here in the form of an incision giving a smiling appearance. Small erosions and shards of wood.
Depending on the presence of horns and their arrangement, the masks are called pipibudze, Ekuku zokou, etc. and are associated with the ancestors or spirits of the forest, " ekuk ".Tribu of the Kota group, the Kwélé , Bakwélé , live in forest on the northern border of the Republic of Congo. They live on 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 ...

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Masque League Lukwakongo
African art > African mask > Masquette League

Lega primitive sculptures in African art. This mask, which was not intended to be worn, but manipulated during rituals, displays an oblong face in which the orbits are dug into the heart. Coffee bean eyelids, nostrils, are hollowed out, mouth absent. Smooth satin patina, the center of which is smeared with a crust of chipped kaolin. This African Lega mask indicated the stage that its holder had reached within the Bwami, a learning society composed of different ranks, and which were joined by wives whose spousehad reached the third level, that of the ngandu . Total height on a pedestal: 42 cm
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 ...

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Ancestor Ndengese s statuette fetish
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African art > African Statues > Ancestor Ndengese's statuette fetish

Ex-collection of African English art.

A Central African people established in Kasaï, a neighbor of the Kuba, the Ndengese form one of the clans of a Mongo common ancestor, some of them from Upper Nile. produces statues with absent or truncated lower limbs The flared hairstyle surmounted by a summit horn is characteristic for the hairstyles of the Totshi notables belonging to the ikoho association. It symbolizes respect, intelligence and maturity. The triangular face in which realistic features appear in meditation.The neck has grooves that extend V on the chest. The narrow chest, abdomen and arms are dotted with annealed scarification in order to differentiate socially and the hands are joined under the raised umbilical capsule. The object was coated with tukula powder, a ...

Nkisi Kongo Yombé couple figures
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African art > African Statues > Statues Yombé

These Kongo statues forming couple have slightly different faces thanks to the rictus of the femine figure. The elements bilongo conferring additional powers on this tribal art object named nkisi were housed in the cup forming reliquary on the woman's abdomen. The metal reputed to hold protective virtues is present in the form of nails dostanding the sculpture. Satin patina, granular residue.
The sorcerers nganga, both healers, were in charge of religious activities and mediation towards the God called Nzambi through these consecrated figures. Aggressive witchcraft kindoki is the absolute evil that must be fought. To this end, nkisis protective figures are made and loaded by the nganga of all the ingredients necessary to achieve this goal. It is not the morphology of the ...

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Figure anthropozoomorphe Holo
African art > African Statues > Statue Holo

Located in the Democratic Congo between the Yaka and the Tchokwé of Angola, the small Holo ethnic group migrated from the Angolan coast to settle near the banks of the Kwango River. Hunting and agriculture provide for their livelihood. Neighbouring ethnic groups, such as the Suku and Yaka, influenced their traditional sculptures. The Holos have produced hexagonal masks and prestige objects for the ruling elite. The Holos used sculptures, asexual anthropomorphic figures and bird effigies to guard against the influence of evil spirits, including the moon and the rainbow. These statues were placed near the houses as protection from lightning. In "Chokwe and their Bantu Neighbours" (p.110), the author states that these figures hamba named kaponya wa pwo nyi cikungulu symbolize fertility and ...

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