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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.

Statuette Vere, Duru, in bronze alloy
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African art > Bronze, leopard, messenger, warrior, statue, pirogues > Vere bronze

This rare statuette depicting an androgynous being with strangely webbed feet and hands offers a face with prominent features, characterized by bulbous eyelids, pointed, horizontal ears, and a sagittal crest. The body is adorned with linear scarifications in checkerboard pattern originating from the neck. The latter is outlined with a torque, while a belt marks the hips and ankle rings the legs.
The Vere , Verre , Were, Duru-Verre, or Dii, live in northeastern Nigeria, in the state of Adamawa (formerly Gongola), and in northern Cameroon. This very small population lives in circular huts grouped in fortified villages.
The Vere statuettes, whose function remains unknown, are rare, and present analogies with the works produced by the Mumuye, their close neighbors ...

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380.00  304.00

Dogon stool
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African art > Chair, palaver seat, throne, stool > Dogon stool

The usual objects in African art.
Five angular feet form the center of this Dogon seat made of a very dense wood. The seat, polished by use, offers a light brown golden patina. Slight cracks, missing at the base. The Dogon are a people renowned for their cosmogony, their esotericism, their 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). The villages are often perched on the top of scree on the side of hills, according to a unique architecture. The history of the migrations and settlements of the Dogon (about ten main groups, about fifteen different languages), involves several hypotheses. For some ...

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240.00  192.00

Large Yela mask
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African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Yela mask

This flat African mask is of yela inspiration, from the characteristic striations and pout. Yela masks were used by the secret initiation society ekanga.

Height on base: 64 cm. The province of Lualaba had several closely related ethnic groups with similar associations. The Mbole and the Yela are known for their statues embodying, according to D. Biebuck, hanged men. Biebuck ,of the hanged, named ofika . The lilwa , an association with dogmatic initiation rites, had the custom of judging and sentencing to hanging those guilty of infractions of the imposed rules. These offenses ranged from murder to adultery to breaking the secrecy encircling the lilwa . Dishonored, the bodies of condemned persons were not given any burial and were buried in the forest. It was ...

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280.00  224.00

Bamoun Mgba-Mgba induction necklace
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African art > Bronze, leopard, messenger, warrior, statue, pirogues > Bamoun Bronze

The African art of the Bamoun, and the regalia, emblems of prestige associated with sovereignty.
This Bamoun dignitary necklace, or Bamoum, is adorned with 12 buffalo heads arranged on a metal hoop. This iconography symbolizes values of combativeness and tenacity. When they sit, the members of the council of the court of the Sultan Bamoun wear this distinctive ornament of their function,the mbangba, "mgba-mgba", which they believe helps to strengthen their prestige and keep away any evil power. Among the Bamoun, it is the fon , the head of the kingdom or chiefdom, who will offer this necklace to deserving men.

The Bamoun inhabit a region that is both full of wooded relief but also savannah. This large territory called Grassland located in the southwest of Cameroon ...

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

This Lega sculpture, whose morphology carved into the block of wood reveals reduced breasts pointing under enveloping shoulders, belonged to an initiate of the Bwami and was part of a set used during the initiations. Fingers like claws placed on the bust extend the arms, all evoking wings. The face qant to him adopts the recurring characteristics of lega sculpture. A flared base supports the object, itself fixed on a circular base.
Clear and matte patina, abrasions of use, velvety surface.
The Teacher of the Bwami guided the aspiring lega to a place where African lega masks and statuettes were exhibited, and it was through careful observation that the future initiate had to guess the more or less complex meaning of these objects, true metaphors largely referring to proverbs ...

Ndaka Mask, Ndaaka de l Uituri
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African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Ndaka Mask

Thick, slightly convex in shape and quite frustrated except for the detail of a regular metal dentition, this rare mask comes from the forested regions of Ituri in the north of Umaniema. A number of small groups of farmers in the clearings live in contact with the Mbuti pygmies of the forest, these are the Bali, Ndaka, Mbo, Lombi, etc. Most often flat and pigmented with white in reference to the animal world, these masks associated with their raffia costumes perform during ceremonies nkundi seed to initiations and circumcisions of young people. The sculptor's tool marks the surface of this monochrome mask carved into the bark. The arcades have an asymmetry.
Nested Dark Eye.
Hightop on a base: 32 cm.
Ref.: Congo masks Ed. M.L. Felix

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Masque facial Kwele, Bakwele
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African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Bakwele Mask

A longitudinal ridge shares this board, oval mask with three pairs of crescent arched eyes, the central pair of which is incised for vision. It forms a stylized, abstract variant of the mask at "trompe". The dark patina is chipped, shards of wood are to be noted. These gabonese masks with a concave face, in the heart, have almond eyes and a triangular nose. Depending on the presence of horns and their arrangement, the masks referring to the antelope are called pipibudze, Ekuku zokou, etc. and are associated with ancestors or forest spirits. Tribe 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 ...

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Pende Mbuya mask
African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Pende mask

African initiation mask, Mbuya embellished with a basketry and raffia cloth headdress. The patina results from a mixture of ochre bark and palm oil.
Height on base: 54 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 Salempasu have been imprinted on their extensive tribal art sculpture. Within this diversity the Mbuya masks , realistic, produced every ten years, have a festive function, and embody different characters difficult to differentiate without their costume, including the chief fumu or ufumu, the diviner and his wife, the prostitute,the jester, tundu , the possessed, etc.... The Mbuya ...

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Couple of Ngbandi statues
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African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Ngbandi statues

Among the Ngbandi, funerary statues were used, and sculptures of a couple yangba and his sister, equivalent to the Seto and Nabo ancestors of the Ngbaka.

Arranged on altars, they received daily offerings and prayers.

Dark glossy patina. Rehauts of kaolin. Desiccation cracks.
The Ngbaka are a homogeneous people of northwestern D.R.C., south of the Ubangui River. The Ngbandi live in the east ( on the left bank of the Ubangi) and the Ngombe in the south. The initiation of youth, "gaza" or "ganza" (which gives strength) among the Ngbaka and Ngbandi, has many similarities, through endurance tests, songs and dances. The rites required the presence of sculptures of ancestors. It was after a period of time away from the village that circumcision and ...

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480.00  384.00

Tyi Wara Bambara vertical crest mask
African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Bamana mask

The graceful Ti-wara masks in African art. Highlighted by copper strips and pastilles, the sculpture with its tapered curves is accompanied by cotton loops, beads and cowries. The ends of the horns are sheathed in leather and extended with horsehair. This Ti wara sculpture comes from the Segou region. Matte patina.

Established in central and southern Mali, the Bamara," Bamana" or "unbelievers", as the Muslims have named them, belong to the large Mande group, along with the Soninke and Malinke.

It would be an animal-genius called Ciwara who would have taught the Bambara to cultivate the land. The latter recall the myth through the stylized representation of a hippotrague antelope, whose name ci wara means "false of the earth. Worn atop the skull and ...

Luba Kifwebe Zoomorphic Mask
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African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Luba Mask

This type of African luba mask with rounded structure has similarities to songye masks. However, they did not have the same function. This category of African masks are named 'bifwebe'. They appeared at funerals and investitures. The eastern Lubas had some zoomorphic masks associated with kifwebe dance. They performed during the ritual ceremonies of the society kazanzi , charged with fighting witchcraft. " Bifwebe (Sing.: kifwebe) would mean, according to C. Faïk-Nzuji, 'chasing death'. Worn with a voluminous raffia collar that concealed the dancer, this mask was usually danced in the company of a zoomorphic mask. In the Luba, white is synonymous with the relationship with the spiritual world, by the evocation of the moon evoked by the circular shape of the object.
High on a base: ...

Songye reliquary basket
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African art > Reliquaries, statues > Songye reliquary basket

Former Belgian private collection of African art Jan Putteneers.

In the centre of the room, there is a songye statuette with a face reminiscent of Kifwebe masks. This facies is also similar to that very geometric of some Nkisi protective fetishes.
The statuette is attached to a small terracotta clask itself placed among a multitude of offerings and libations accompanying a tangle of materials and strings.

The Songyes have created impressive statues with powerful features are often used during secret ceremonies, covered with accessories such as feathers, skin and a horn full of magic charge.
Very present in their society, divination allowed to discover the sorcerers and to shed light on the causes of the misfortunes that struck individuals.

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Couple d  Ere Ibeji Yoruba Igbomina
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African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Ibeji Twins

The ibeji in African art.

In the language of the Yoruba people, ibeji means twin: ibi for born and eji for two. They represent the figure of a deceased twin.
This ibeji is then treated as the missing child would have been. It is the mother who must take care of him; she can wash and feed him regularly. If she dies, the remaining twin takes over.
Considered as much more than a physical representation of a loved one, the ibeji influences the life of the family, that is why the family continues to pray to him and to dedicate cults and libations to him.
These pieces are among the most famous art objects of the Yoruba ethnic group. In fact, the occurrence of twinning in this ethnic group is stronger than anywhere else in Black Africa. This ...

Bronze Kongo statuette
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African art > Bronze, leopard, messenger, warrior, statue, pirogues > Bronze Congo

Ex-collection French African art.
This small anthropomorphic sculpture, made of bronze, takes in miniature the canons of the Kongo statuary, especially the funerary statues inyongo or mintadi of lower Zaire, which were made of stone and represented various themes thanks to characters frozen in various attitudes. These figures form the vital embodiment of a spirit or ancestor. 
The Vili, the Lâri, the Sûndi, the Woyo, the Bembé, the Bwende, the Yombé and the Kôngo formed the group Kôngo , led by King ntotela. Their kingdom reached its peak in the 16th century with the ivory, copper and slave trade. Similarly, beliefs and traditions, they produced a statuary with a codified gesture in relation to their worldview. The sorcerers nganga, both healers, were in charge of religious ...

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Muhunzu Pové, Vuvi mask
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African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Vuvi mask

br>Supporting a sacred power, the African mask Pové, among the diversity of Okandé, Membé masks, from the tribes of central Gabon, presents a flat volume.
Reminiscent of Tsogho masks, it is furthermore coated with juxtaposed colors that are divided by raised black lines.
Carved by an initiate on the eve of ritual ceremonies, this mask embodies the mythical ancestor of the tribe. Today, it is used for the mourning of personalities or to exercise a form of justice. Established in the Ogooué basin, the Okande group of the Membe language, neighboring the Punu and Pounou, is composed of the Tsogho, Pove (Vuvi), Okande, Evea and Apindji ethnic groups. These ethnic groups practice the cult of Mwiri, a male initiation society. Source: "Masques du Gabon", ed. Sillages.

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240.00  192.00

Kongo Yombe Pfemba figure
African art > Maternity, statues, bronze, wood > Kongo figure

A carved figurine of the Kongo, this female effigy embodies the clan ancestor, a mediating figure.
The child embodies the matrilineal transmission of power.
The mouth reveals traditionally filed teeth, the eyes seem exorbitant, underlining the capacity of the ancestress to discern occult things.
The use of this type of carving is not well known. However, they frequently formed the motif carved at the top of the chiefs' canes. Light brown patina. Cracks and abrasions.
A clan of the Kongo group, the Yombe are established on the West African coast, in the southwestern Republic of the Congo and in Angola. Their statuary includes remarkable maternities. Among the Kongo , the nganga took charge of rituals by activating a spiritual force with a nkondi ...

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Songola Nsindi mask
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African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Songola mask

Flat mask, pierced with circular and rectangular holes for the mouth incised with teeth. The superciliary arches, in relief, emphasize an exorbitant look. Cracked two-tone patina. Height on base: 55 cm. Mixed by marriage with the Lega, Ngengele and Zimba, the Songola are governed by the elders of the lineages. They borrowed from the Luba and Songye, the Luhuna institution composed of dignitaries and that of the Bwami by their lega wives. The Songola live by hunting and fishing, and they are involved in sculpture, although the objects associated with the Bwami cult come from the Lega. Among their reduced statuary, the figures of the ancestors of the Nsubi society are reminiscent of those of the Mbole, while other sculptures were kept in baskets as among the Lega. Masks such as our ...

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280.00  224.00

Pende Mingangi, Minyangi mask
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African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Pende mask

Among the Pende, very different masks are called "giphogo." This example differs in effect from the circular helmet mask. The reduced version of the triangular giphogo is called Minyangi.
Flat and triangular, this pende mask from Kasai is topped with vertical horns. Abraded matt patina. 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 Salempasu have been imprinted on their extensive tribal art sculpture. Within this diversity the Mbuya masks , realistic ,produced every ten years, have a festive function, and embody different characters, including the chief fumu or ufumu, the ...

Lobi figure in black iron
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African art > Black iron objects, black iron masks > Lobi figure

Minimalism for this anthropomorphic figure in black iron. A graceful male figure that seems to be propelled by contrast thanks to the size of its body. Crusty mottled patina. The populations of the same cultural region, grouped under the name "Lobi", make up one fifth of the inhabitants of Burkina Faso. Although they are not very numerous in Ghana, they have also settled in the north of the Ivory Coast. It was at the end of the eighteenth century that the Lobi , coming from northern Ghana, settled among the indigenous Thuna and Puguli, the Dagara , the Dian , the Gan and the Birifor . The Lobi believe in a creator God named Thangba Thu, to whom they turn through the worship of numerous intermediate spirits, the Thil, the latter being supposed to protect them, with the help of the ...

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180.00  144.00

Figure of Igbo sanctuary
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African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Igbo statue

The Igbo, in southeastern Nigeria, worship a considerable number of deities known as alusi , or agbara, considered to be the offspring of Chuku, or Chukwu, and as such constitute intermediaries to whom sacrifices such as kola nuts, money, kaolin,are bestowed in order to enjoy their favors.
These Nigerian sculptures produced in several regions range from about forty centimeters to a human size, and are adorned with more or less elaborate aristocratic attributes.
The sculptors turn out to be men, but female adepts quite often contribute by finishing the work with colored pigments.
Hairstyle and integumentary ornaments also indicate the social rank of the character. Eroded crusty patina, polychrome highlights. They are only presented to the public during annual ...

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390.00  312.00

Salampasu masker
African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Salampasu masker

A bulbous forehead crowned with wicker spheres, diamond-shaped eyes, a large nose and sharp teeth make up this Mukinka mask of the Salampasu. Copper rectangles line its surface. This ceremonial mask, linked to the warrior society, was displayed at funerals in connection with the deceased's previous initiations. It also participated in initiation rites. Some of these masks were so feared that their name alone made women and children run away.
Height including beard: 68 cm. Living of hunting and agriculture, warlike people, the Salampasu form a tribe of the Lulua group and are installed between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola, in the East of the Kasaï river. They are surrounded to the west and south by the Tschokwe and Lunda, and to the north and east by ...

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