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

Mambila Mask (N° 13231)

Mambila sculpture in African art

Population of Bantu origin established in south-eastern Nigeria, but also in the north-west of border Cameroon, near the Mfunte (or Wuli) of the Grasslands, the Mambila (" men" in fulani), who shoot their subsistence from agriculture and livestock, have produced statues embodying ancestors, associated with fertility and prosperity, and masks-heaume for ceremonies closing the planting season. The village chiefs, surrounded by the association mimin, were responsible for ensuring social peace. The cult objects of the Mambila, used by the many powerful initiation associations, also participated in therapeutic rituals and contributed to the protection against witchcraft supposed to be transmitted by women. With an encrusted crusty patina, this anthropomorphic helmet mask, with great visual force, is lined with wooden studs representing hair and beard, like some tadep statues. The concave face ends in its lower part with a mouth with narrow lips with ochre-red plant pigment. These masks worn on the top of the head must have remained hidden from the women.  

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Originex collection belge
Height cm40
Width24 cm
Weight1.60 Kg
Estimated datingmid-xx°
Socle inclusOptional

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