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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.

Iginga League Statues
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African art > African Statues > League Statues

Ex-French tribal art collection.
Statuettes and moral codes in the African art of Lega
This Lega statuette, whose morphology evokes that of an elderly woman, belonged to an insider of the Bwami and was part of a set used during the initiations. It offers a semi-flexed position, camped on wide feet, the angle of the knees echoing the prominence of the bust, conical, and those of the arms. The flat face is topped with heart-hearted eyebrow edges under which globular eyelids are inscribed. The ensemble is regularly punctuated with circular patterns with a locally gilded beige patina.
The teacher guided the aspiring lega to a place where African lega masks and statuettes were displayed, and it was through careful observation that the future initiate had to guess the more or ...


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Ngil Fang Mask
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African art > African mask > Fang Mask

The Fang, formerly known as Pahouins, are divided into several subsets in three countries, Cameroon, Gabon, and the mainland of Equatorial Guinea. Mainly hunters, they also practice agriculture. Their social cohesion rests on the societies Ngil and So.The ngil was a purifying fire rite symbolized by the gorilla. The wearers of these masks, always in large numbers, appeared at night, lit by torches. Their intervention was also linked to the judicial function by identifying the culprits of bad deeds within the village. Bichromy for this Fang mask. A forehead marked with triangular eyebrows and shared with a middle groove dominates a flat surface with rounded contours. These elements are accented with black pigments. The eyes and mouth are simply incised. Powdery patina, mate.


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Bamileke rider
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African art > African Rider > Bamileke rider

Rider performances are very common in Yoruba African art, and for good reason this is the central theme of the story named" "Death and the King's Horseman."

This fiction tells the funeral of the deceased King of Oyo, an ancient African state founded in the 15th century, neighbor of the Kingdom of Dahomey, and the tradition that his rider, Elesin, must commit suicide within thirty days of the death of the king in order to follow in due course the Yoruba religious dogma The death of the rider is indeed intended to guarantee the king a safe conduit to his new home. Elesin, a simple man enjoying life, is given a mission he does not want and ends up disappointing the Yoruba people who place high expectations in him. It is this myth that inspired the sculptor during the making of ...


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Benin court dwarf in bronze
African art > African Statues > Benin Statue

Ex-English tribal art collection.
Simply dressed, the character with rounded volumes offers an imposing head with protruding cheekbones in which the sunken eyes could indicate blindness. The folded arms with clenched fists give the silhouette an idea of movement and vigour. The legs are proportionally reduced. Beautiful spotted patina, golden reflections. In African art, Benin art is described as court art because it is closely associated with the king, known as Oba.
The dwarves of the king's entourage, which appeared in the 15th century, were intended not only for diversion, but also for surveillance. They were given occult gifts. According to Fagg, these characters were also acrobats and illusionists. Their bronze figures were to garnish the altars of the ancestors.


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450.00

Twins Ibedji Yoruba
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African art > African Statues > Twin Ibedji

Ex-french african art collection. Gemini in African Yoruba art. Monochromy for these exemplary statuettes (ere) Ibedji, whose position of the palms is frequent in the statuary of the region of Abeokuta. The statuettes are distinguished here by their braided hairstyles arranged in high crest, their round beaded belts, deep scarification, multiple necklaces of pearls around the neck and bracelets adorned with cowrie shells. One of them also has large brass rings on the wrists. Libation residues matify the smooth surface. Carved according to the indications of Ifa transmitted to the diviner, the babalawo, the Ibedji statuettes played the role of substitute for the death of the child. The statues are then treated as would have been the missing child. It is the mother who must take care of ...


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Black Mask Punu Ikwara
African art > African mask > Punu Mask

Ex-French tribal art collection.
African art Punu and its African masks of ancestors. This African mask for dance ikwara was used, according to Alisa LaGamma, during difficult palavers. A vigilante mask dancing on small stilts, it is capped with a summit shell with two side duvets. Checkered scarifications named mabinda, symbolizing according to some authors the nine clans behind the Kongo kingdom or the migratory routes, are inscribed on this copy covered with a locally abraded black patina. Copper nails also enhance the dark surface. Localized abrasions, erosions and cracks. Black and burgundy skate.
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 ...


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180.00

Statue Ambete, Mbete
African art > African Statues > Statue Ambete

African art and reliquary figures of Gabon
This statue was part of the cult of the Ancestors Mbete, a dorsal cavity playing the role of reliquary. It was also placed near the baskets containing the bones. A load of plant fibres was introduced. The flat face has a characteristic appearance, with cauris evoking narrow, half-closed eyelids, a hollowed-out mouth in which sticks that are now absent evoked teeth, giving it a grimacing appearance.
attached to the prominent bust, the arms are folded at a right angle. The flexing of the legs would herald a ritual dance. The statue is decorated with motifs composed of parallel intersecting lines. Eroded surface with a dark brown patina, locally coated with kaolin. One foot has obviously been restored.

The Mbete form a ...


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180.00

Benin Bronze Portuguese Colon Plate
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African art > African bronze > Benin Bronze Portuguese Colon Plate

Ex-Belgian tribal art collection.
The mastery of bronze in African art. This exceptional and ancient piece depicts a Portuguese settler.
This character carrying in the right hand what appears to be a firecracker and in the left hand a sword. The shackles (open bronze ring) encircling the figure testify to the importance of the Portuguese to the Oba, king of the ethnic group, and the dominant class of the Kingdom Benin in the 16th century.
Indeed, the tremendous increase in imports of metal in the form of shackles, used as a bargaining chip, provided bronze craftsmen with huge quantities of raw material for their works and contributed greatly to the economic boom. Benin.
The Portuguese is therefore presented here as a provider of wealth. In the 16th century, they ...

Bobo helmet mask
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African art > African mask > Bobo mask

Ex-Belgian African art collection.
A combination of vivid contrasting geometric patterns appears under the ritual coating of this African Janiform mask. A cemetery brings together the two faces. The painted motifs symbolize the magical amulets of Bobo. The masks are repainted each new dance season. Common features are to be noted with some masks-helmets of Markha, other Mandinka ethnic group. Slight cracks. These heavy masks, usually designed around a hemispheric helmet with a crest or corneal growths, were used in agricultural rituals to restore the earth’s balance. Their significance was revealed during the initiation of young boys.
The Mandingo people, most of whom live in eastern Burkina Faso, but also in southern Mali, the Bobo Fing culture is similar to that of the ...


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Songye Fetish Statue
African art > African Statues > Statue Songye

Ex-French tribal art collection.
Fetishes in The African Art of Songye.Magic Sculpture named Nkisi , nkishi (pl. mankishi ), it is a protective fetish of the Songye, composed of a character perched on a hybrid being, horned, with a menacing face.  A large horn, in which magical elements ( bajimba) were introduced, was placed in the center of the tiara which it sports, among smaller elements of the same nature, one last one rising from its abdomen.  Other cavities on the statues could also hold apotropaic ingredients. The large digitized hands highlight the abdominal prominence, a witness to lineage. Wicker strips, firmly coiled, hold under the arms of the effigy of the sticks that allowed its transport. Brilliant patina, which is locally mative lying with sandy residue.
These ...


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290.00

Maternity statue Asye usu Baoulé
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African art > African Statues > Statue Baule

For baoules, seeing a woman's genitals can be fatal for a man. The depiction of a female figure, naked, not veiled with a cloth loincloth, poses a threat. She is probably the embodiment of a female goddess.
Dark brown patina, abraded.
Two types of statues are produced by the baoulé in the ritual framework: The Statues Waka-Sona, " be of wood " in baoulé, evoke a assousou, be of the earth. They are part of a type of statues intended to be used as a medium tool by the soothsayers the Komien, the latter being selected by the spirits asye usu in order to communicate the revelations of the afterlife. The second type of statues, made according to the soothsayer's instructions, are the spouses of the afterlife, male, the Blolo bian or feminine, the bia blolo. Some 60 ethnic ...

Luba Cutting Carrier
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African art > African Statues > Statuette Luba

Sculpture workshops of the Luba kingdom in African art


Attitude of devotion for this female figure " cutting mboko" , calabash that was filled with kaolin, symbolizing purity and the spiritual world. These containers were used by different Luba societies, more generally by the mediums of the divination society Kilumbu, Bilumbu, or by the healers of the society Buhabo . The soothsayers Mbudye also used it. The faces of these characters embodying the guardian spirits show a peaceful interiority. According to P.Nooter these figures also represented the soothsayer's wife, which underlines its importance in the divination process bilumbu . According to some Luba, however, although a woman, she would represent the first soothsayer Luba, and would also be an allegory of ...


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Yoruba Maternity Figure
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African art > African Statues > Statue Yoruba

This female figure, wearing an altier head, embodies a high-lineage ancestor sitting on a prestigious stool: her hairstyle consisting of crowned braids is that of dignitaries, she wears a leather amulet "tyrah", originally islamic, supposed to protect her with her descendants. Its appearance is unique to yoruba statuary, whose main characteristics remain the large globular almond eyes and the deep jugal scarifications known in "griffes".The Yoruba society is very organized and has a highly organized several associations with varying roles. While men's society egbe reinforces social norms, the aro unites farmers. The gelede has more esoteric and religious aims. The notables come together in a society called esusu. The kingdoms of Oyo and Ijebu were born following the demise of the ...


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Masque Dan Déanglé
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African art > African mask > Masque Dan

Ex-collection French tribal art.
A thick adornment borders the contours of this African mask. It consists of numerous raffia mats and ropes, fixed along a canvas pad, accompanied by cauris forming decorative motifs. The ajar lips protrude in diamonds. The smooth, dark brown patina has abrasions that reveal lighter wood. Dan masks, of varying size, usually occur during highly theatrical entertainment parties where women play a leading role. The so-called Mask, called Deanglé, defines an ideal of beauty and benevolence because it is carved in honour of the village's young girls or renowned men. Also used during circumcision rites, they appear in the company of the gle s and the large go ge masks relating to the go society, which exercises justice and maintains peace. In general, dan ...


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Bamoun beaded hem mask
African art > African mask > Bamun Mask

Ex-French tribal art collection.
In African art, the use of pearls is linked to the prestige of the court. The Bamoun live in an area that is both full of wooded reliefs but also savannahs. This large territory called Grassland in southwestern Cameroon is also home to other close ethnic groups such as the Bamiléké and the Tikar . Stylistically, one feels the influence of this interethnic promixmity by common traits on the pieces of art, such as the tendency to represent globular-eyed joumins in the Tikar, or the application of beads on art sculptures. African bamileke.
Bamoun craftsmen have produced countless works, each one more impressive than the other. The masks, the beaded objects, the drawings of Njoya, the architecture of the palaces, reflect the quality and diversity ...


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350.00

Galoa Mask
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African art > African mask > Galoa Mask

Former Galoa mask from Gabon. The Galoa (or Galwa) living downstream of Lambaréné on the river Ogooué.
This is most likely a mask of twins. Surmounted by a cap, mask is slender with a red forehead symbol of life and the lower part of face white.
Note that the mask is compet with its adornment of raffia.


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Wobé-Guéré Mask
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African art > African mask > Wobé-Guéré Mask

Former private collection of African art Pascal Roland (Belgium).
The Wobé-Guéré masks are very close stylistically to the Bété masks.
We find characteristics such as a prominent forehead, a long nose, globular or cylindrical eyes, as well as a mouth with sometimes visible teeth. The forehead is decorated with various animal additions.
This mask is appreciated for its preserved polychromy.


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Yoruba Altar Figure
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African art > African Statues > Statuette Yoruba

African art and iconographic complexity of Yoruba statuary
Focused on the veneration of its 400 gods, or orisà , orisha, the religion Yoruba relies on artistic sculptures with coded messages (aroko). They are designed by sculptors at the request of followers, soothsayers and their customers. These spirits are supposed to intercede with the supreme god Olodumare.This feminine effigy whose role is to facilitate communication with the afterlife depicts a follower of the god Sango , kneeling, in an attitude of supplication or even a mother deity. The faces carved at the top would symbolize Orunmila , goddess of divination, and also evoke the gellality dear to the Yoruba.
Mahogany brown satin patina, powdery ochre residue.
The kingdoms of Oyo and Ijebu were born ...


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Pair of large altar heads Benin Bini Edo
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African art > African bronze > altar heads Benin

Ex private collection of African art UK. Each head is surmounted by a so-called Oliphan horn. They shine by their size of 2m10 high. Each oliphan has a similar decoration. At the top, an Oba sitting on an equestrian representation. The middle is decorated with a mask that overhangs the king in war clothes. The set is based on a head with a finned cap. One of the specificities of the ancestral altars of the chiefs is the commemorative head, head of het chief characterized by the minutely reproduced insignia of a high-ranking title holder. It is at the head that sacrifices and offerings are presented, it is she who is thanked for the good being of the faithful. For the chief, the altar of the head has a very intimate meaning, which is why it is placed in the heart of the house. The ...

Baoulé Ndoma Mask
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African art > African mask > Baoule Mask

Ex-French tribal art collection.
This African Baoulé mask, known as portrait mask, comes in the form of an elegant face with lacquered reflections. The polished surface, as if icy, highlights the regular features of this portrait mask on which sits a character with a discreet polychromy. A flat collar concealed the ties of the adornment under which the dancer was evolving. These portrait masks of the Baoulé, ndoma , which are part of one of the oldest Baoulé artistic traditions and frequently represent an idealized character, have the peculiarity of manifesting itself at the end of the dance ceremonies of entertainment. The latter are named, depending on the regions, bedwo, ngblo, mblo, adjussu, etc. Each of these masks is distinguished by the hairstyles, the location and the ...


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Sceptre Osé Sàngo Yoruba
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African art > African Statues > Sceptre Shango

Ex-English African art collection.
The Oshe, Yoruba ritual sceptres, appear during ceremonial dances. They are brandished in the left hand by the dancers. These figures represent, through their double axe headdress, the god of thunder and youth Shango, or Sango. The latter is the mythical ancestor of the kings of Oyo. Sango, nicknamed Baba Ibeji , legendary father of many twins, was also the protector. The occurrence of groaning was very common in the region. Sango, god of lightning and social justice, is wearing a flat pattern symbolizing a double axe evoking the stone axes he is supposed to throw from the sky during storms. The deities of the rivers are also represented by stones and by the water of the rivers associated with them. This emblem signals the connection between the ...


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