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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.

Couple of large beaded bangwa statues
African art > African Statues > Couple of large beaded bangwa statues

The fame of Bangwa art in African art stems mainly from their statuary, whose major works are the commemorative sculptures of kings, queens, princesses and crowned servants, as well as the twins' parents.

The Bangwa are united into a small kingdom within the important Bamileke people in western Cameroon. The influence of the Bamileke on the Bangwa statuary is observed in which the same type of facial features and morphology are found although the beads are not used. The position of the body is classic, with the lower and upper limbs bent. Typical of the Bamileke country, Bangwa statues often represent fertility but also power and combativeness. They are often positioned on either side of the induction chairs at notable meetings.

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Fon Fetish Throne (Rare)
African art > _1 > Fon Fetish Throne (Rare)

Throughout its history, African 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.
In particular, voodoo or vodun, a religious cult whose name comes from a variant of the Yoruba word meaning "dieu", is found in them.

This fetish throne, ritual object, imbued with great strength, exceedingly rare, was harvested in 1988, comes from the house of a fetishist, it represents his power, when you enter the house of a fetishist who owns this throne, you know that you have in front of you an outstanding fetishist, a true sorcerer whose power is recognized by all. It is this throne that represents the power of ...

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Pair of Shoulder Masks Sukwava Wurkum
African art > African mask > Pair of Shoulder Masks Sukwava Wurkum

Former Belgian private collection of African art J. Putteneers.

The Wurkum, like the Mumuye, have shoulder masks called Skuwava with an elongated neck topped with a head, sometimes miniaturized. The wurkum pieces are nevertheless more expressive than the mumuye pieces.
These imposing masks were traditionally worn during war preparation ceremonies but are currently linked to healing and rain rituals.
These unusual parts come from the northern regions of the Bénoué.La patina is smooth in coffee tones.

Basket reliquary Losso
African art > African Reliquary > Basket reliquary Losso

African art, we find in many ethnic groups this tendency to create reliquary baskets, so it is not uncommon to find versions sometimes flared as in the Luba and Songye, or more vertical versions like this one. In the basket entangled elements of various materials. Here, an anthropomorphic statuette with a simplistic face and rough patina shares the space with a piece of skull with small horns and other pieces of wood and cordage. The Losso practiced the worship of the ancestors, it was a good omen to honor them in order to attract their benevolence. Losso coins are extremely rare.

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Pair of Benin Bronze Altar Heads
African art > African bronze > Pair of Benin Bronze Altar Heads

Ex private English collection of African art.

These altar heads created using the lost wax technique are very loaded with details and patterns. The characters with realistic features have facial scarifications and many finely detailed ornaments. This pair of busts has a beautiful symmetry. Both characters wear a brace outfit accompanied by a collar bearing a bell.
The horns themselves are covered with geometric patterns and sculpted faces. At the top of each horn sits a soldier, helmet on his head and gun in hand.

The art of Benin is described as a court art because it is closely associated with the king, known as oba. The tradition of Ifè's bronze classroom objects dates back to the 14th century.

The many bronze heads and statues created by the ...

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Lega statuette in ivory
African art > _1 > Lega statuette in ivory

Former Belgian private collection of African art J. Putteneers.

Lega art consists of a very wide range of statuettes very famous for their level of stylization and the variety of its forms.
The Lega are also renowned for their pieces made from precious materials such as ivory or ebony as is the case here.
This statuette is composed of a small, sturdy body resting on strong legs. The arms are sculpted on the body, they are bent and the small hands are placed on the torso. The head is more complex. Indeed, is endowed with a more variation of reliefs. The face is curved a little like the Fang.
These small pieces were involved in the educational training of young people initiated in Bwami, the main secret society of the ethnic group.

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Pair of Cimiers Ogbom Eket
African art > African mask > Pair of Cimiers Ogbom Eket

Private Belgian collection of African tribal art J. Putteneers.

Used at Ogbom ceremonies, these anthropomorphic dance crests feature faces that overcome a stylized body composed of two superimposed arcs. Decorated with champlevé diamonds whose once contrasting colors barely retain their white pigment, they remain extraordinarily expressive thanks to their concave face in which the bulging eyelids are modestly lowered.
The Eket are a subgroup of the Ibibio ethnic group known for its expressive masks. These Ogbom crests are among the most conceptual pieces of African art and are related to the most modernist expressions of the old statuary Eket.Il are open masks with a crusty patina and overhanging a human head. It should be noted that these masks can be female or ...

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Venavi Ewe Statuette
African art > _1 > Venavi Ewe Statuette

The Ewe consider the birth of twins Venavi (or Venovi) as a good and fortunate omen.

The twins must be treated equally and equitably.For example, both will be fed and washed at the same time and will wear the same clothes, If one of the twins dies, the parents buy a statuette to replace the deceased child, they usually buy it from a sculptor on the market and go to a wizard to The Venavi statuette will be of the same sex as the child it represents and replaces but projects itself into the future that the child will not have known by wearing adult features. small pieces of clothing and pearls testify to family belonging, here the piece is carved in a light wood and has a nice worn patina.The Venavi are the Togolese counterpart of Ibedji yor uba, Nigeria, because their ...

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Yoruba figure
African art > African bronze > Yoruba figure

In African art, the horse occupies a very important mythical place among the Yoruba, although there are few representations of a man on horseback. On the contrary, it is much more widespread among Dogons.
There are several speculations about the identity of the figure depicted on the equestrian figures found in Benin. It could be a Yoruba warrior, a king of Benin or Oranmiyan, founder of the present dynasty that imported the horses to Benin. In each hand, it has an object. This is a spear and a scepter, the ultimate regal symbols.
Faithful to the aesthetic canons of the ethnic group, this statuette is worked with many details. For the sake of realism, each element is decorated and finely carved.

The Yoruba society is very organized and has several ...

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Statuette Chibinda Ilunga Chokwe
African art > African Statues > Statuette Chibinda Ilunga Chokwe

Former Belgian private collection of African art Jan Putteneers.

This is a statuette of Chibinda Ilunga, founder of the Chokwé.
Here he is found sitting in a suit, arms bent, hands close to the body. The pitched back and raised chin indicate a proud and dominant attitude. Its very special headdress with two side parts and a curved penne towards the back makes it easy to recognize.

Peacefully settled in eastern Angola until the 16th century, the Chokwé were then subjected to the Lunda empire from which they inherited a new hierarchical system and the sanctity of power. Nevertheless, the Chokwes never fully embraced these new social and political contributions. Three centuries later, they eventually seized the capital of Lunda weakened by internal ...

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Ashanti Maternity
African art > African Maternity > Ashanti Maternity

Former Belgian private collection of African art Jan Putteneers.

Seated female representations from Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana are usually queens. A special feature of this room, this woman carries her child in her arms.
This one is removable like the stool. The latter with a curved seat is typical of the Akan seats.
The patina is clear and slightly worn in places.
The facial features are marked with the help of black color giving a realistic look one infusing life into the broad black pupils.

The Akan people is subdivided into several famous subgroups located near the coast in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana, having been enriched by the trade in precious metals and slaves during contacts with Westerners and in particular the Portuguese who were the first to ...

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Oshe Sango Yoruba
African art > African Statues > Oshe Sango Yoruba

Former French private collection Guy Brunel.
Mr. Brunel, a chemist by training, travelled the world before becoming passionate about Africa, which he discovered through his eldest daughter. Zaire, Kenya, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Guinea,... By the time of his death, he had accumulated nearly 600 pieces. Its legatees have decided to put this collection up for sale through our gallery.

The Oshe of the Yoruba are used in the ritual dances of U.002matriarca". These are worn 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.
This is a deity feared by its unpredictability. It is venerated because it brings beneficial rains to crops. ...

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Tikar Maternity in bronze
African art > African Maternity > Tikar Maternity in bronze

The mastery of bronze in African art.

This is a typical representation of a maternal figure according to the canons of Tikar art.
Sitting on a royal stool, she holds two children on her lap. Of high lineage, it is richly adepped with jewels, necklaces and bracelets around the neck and wrists.
The headdress is very elaborate and many ritual scarifications cover her belly. The stool's seat is highly worked and rests on a five-character caryatid base.

The tribes that live in the Grasslands, northwest of Cameroon, are part of the Tikar peoples, divided into several independent kingdoms in the Bafut kingdom. The structure of the kingdom consists of a large chiefdom subdivided into quarters: the residences of queens, children and notables.

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Large statue of a dignitary Bambara
African art > African Statues > dignitary Bambara

Ex private French collection of African art.

This Bambara dignitary figure is distinguished by its high stature and the solemnity of its expression. Her eyelids are lowered, adding an enigmatic character, and the stylization of her features is reminiscent of her Dogon neighbors. The naked person sits proudly on a stool, a weapon in each hand. He wears an ovoid headdress on his head. Two braids hang from the back of the head. The dark patina has beautiful traces of desiccation and a nice aging. The Bambara are found in central and southern Mali. This name means unbeliever and was given to them by the Muslims. They belong to the large Mande group, like Soninke and Malinke. They believe in the existence of a creator god generically called Ngala, which has 266 sacred attributes. ...

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Musangwe Tabwa Mask
African art > African mask > Musangwe Tabwa Mask

Former Belgian private collection of African art Jan Putteneers.

The Tabwa are an ethnic group in southeastern DRC. Simple farmers without centralized power, they united around tribal leaders after being influenced by the Luba. It was mainly during this period that their artistic current was expressed mainly through statues but also through masks.
The Tabwa worshipped ancestors and dedicated some of their statues to them. Animists, their beliefs are anchored around ngulu, nature spirits present in plants and rocks.

The helmet mask here in a slightly flattened spherical shape is equipped with geometric scarifications from the corner of the eyes and the cracks of the mouth and extending to the ears. Scarifications and body modifications were commonplace in ...

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Big pearled statue Bamileke
African art > African Statues > statue Bamileke

Ex private French collection of African art. The Bamiléké, a subgroup of a larger tribe also made up of Bamoun and Tikar, excelled in producing multicolored beaded statues, a sign of prosperity and wealth, giving the royal object the brilliance that distinguishes it from common objects. . A basic structure is carved in the wood and then covered with a trellis of pearls whose colors correspond to the different chieftaincies. Among Bamileke people, as in other ethnic groups, works of art testified to the position of their owner in the hierarchy of society. Thus, the materials and shapes of objects varied according to social status. The Bamileke king, also called fon, who was responsible for soil fertility and the protection of his subjects, was not considered mortal. As a result, his ...

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Fétiche Songye Nkisi
African art > African fetish > Fétiche Songye Nkisi

Former Belgian private collection of African art J. Putteneers.

Piece of the graphics of the ethnic group: mouth carried forward, nose in triangle, but above all the streaks on the face. The magic charge is usually symbolized by a horn placed on the top of the head. The summit horn here gives way to a small orifice through which the horn was attached. This piece is therefore desecrated.
The magical power of the Nkisi is enhanced by the addition of accessories such as the loincloth present here and sometimes by small leather bags and metal plates or nails.

These home protection fetishes are among the most prized in Africa. Nkisi plays the role of mediator between gods and humans. In the 16th century, the Songyes migrated from the Shaba region to settle on the ...

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Big Bangwa Lefem Statue
African art > African Statues > Bangwa Statue

The fame of Bangwa art in African art comes mainly from their statuary whose major works are the commemorative sculptures of kings, queens, princesses and titled servants, as well as parents of twins. in a small kingdom within the large Bamileke tribe in western Cameroon, the influence of the Bamileke on Bangwa statuary in which we find the same type of facial features and morphology although the pearls are not The position of the body is classic, with the upper and lower limbs flexed.Bangile statues of the Bamileke country, often represent the fertility but also the power and combativeness.They are often positioned on each side of the induction chairs during meetings of notables.

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Jukun Fetish
African art > African Statues > Jukun Fetish

Ex Belgian private collection of African art Emile Robyn. Stylistically very close to the Wurkum and Mumuyé, we find a straight body fixed with Z arms. A reddish crusty patina covers this object which ends with an iron tip. It is statuettes of protection that one planted in front of the fields in order to ensure the benevolence of the old ones. It was Emile's grandfather, Abel Robyn, who started the collection in 1850. It was passed on over three generations. When Abel died in 1895, his son Jerome Robyn inherited this collection which he continued to increase until his death in 1968. Emile Robyn inherited from his father and continued to extend this magnificent collection over the course of his purchases. were made only by famous gallery owners, auctioneers or renowned collectors. Numbers ...

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Bamileke Bed
African art > _1 > Bamileke Bed

This Bamileke bed is carved from a single piece of wood.

The upper part is decorated with an animal while the carrying parts are made up of heads and characters with features typically Bamileke and recall the elephant. The faces are relatively large and decorated with wide eyes. The ears stand out on the same plane as the face. The noses are flattened. The entire room is covered with a dark and smooth patina. Among Bamilekes, as in other ethnic groups, works of art testified to the position of their owner in the hierarchy of society. Thus, the materials and shapes of objects varied according to social status. The Bamileke king, also called fon, who was responsible for soil fertility and the protection of his subjects, was not considered mortal. As a result, his funeral was a ...

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Djenne Jar
African art > African Jar > Djenne Jar

Ex private French collection of African art.

This is a jar of Djenne inspiration, this culture being extinct there are several centuries. It has an enlarged base that allows it to maintain its balance. The summit is pierced with a circular cavity. It is covered with a bright orange-red patina. Since the old Djenne sites are all in a flood zone, the inhabitants have always found pieces of terracotta that emerge when the water recedes. Objects from archaeological research or simply discovered by chance would come from a culture that developed from the eighth to the eighteenth century. The strong fragmentation of terracotta is still subject to debate. Indeed, the damage of time and burial certainly played a role but it would also seem that these pagan art objects were victims ...

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