African art > Mask > Tetela mask
Tetela mask (N° 16680)
With a collar engraved with parallel grooves, and a tiara with geometric patterns, this mask stands out thanks to its wide dark eyes pierced with holes, a reduced nose and a mouth revealing dark teeth. The white, matte and grainy clay, which is being sprayed with haloes and cracks locally.
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Scattered in the Kasai Basin, the Tetela of Mongo origin have been the source of unrelenting conflicts with their neighbours. They also played a great deal in the slave trade. Their very diverse sculpture is marked by the influence of groups living on their contact: in the North, their art was subject to the influence of forest populations such as the Mongo, to the northwest that of the Nkutschu, and to the west that of the Binji and Mputu. Kuba traditions were also a source of inspiration, as were songy traditions in the southwest. Their fetishes are kept out of sight. Animists, they seek to appease and direct the elements through the sorcerer Wichi and the priest Umpa. Their traditional currency of exchange, " dikonga", in the form of spearheads, has also helped to promote the talent of their blacksmiths and those of the Nkutschu.
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