African cephalomorphic mask of the Mangbetu, topped with the traditional hairstyle. The nose and the ears have a ring. The base showing a thick neck is decorated with a raffia fringe. Oiled wood. Erosions. Desiccation cracks.
The geometric patterns evoke the body paintings and tribal scarifications of the Mangbetu, similar to those of the Asua pygmies with whom the tribe had relations. The latter varied according to the circumstances. The fan-shaped headdress was worn by the Mangbetu: from an early age, children had their skulls compressed with raffia ties. Later, the Mangbetu would "knit" their hair onto strands of wicker and apply a headband to the forehead in order to extract the hair and produce this particular headdress that accentuates the elongation of the head.
The ancients called beli the sculptures of ancestors stored out of sight and comparable to those belonging to their secret society nebeli.
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