African art > Mask > Vili Mask
Tombula Vili Mask (N° 16683)
This mask, lined with hammered copper strips, is reminiscent of kota sculptures and reliquaries. A headdress made up of parallel shells extends into a fan behind a prominent front whose amplitude is counterbalanced by a prognathic jaw. Lack of mouth.
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Present along the Gabonese coast, the Vili detached from the Kongo kingdom in the 16th century and the Loango Kingdom became a powerful state. Now urbanized for the most part, however, they still incorporate traditional associations, dependent on the cult of ancestors such as the Mbouiti or the Bieri. Like the Kongo group, in order to protect themselves from witchcraft and various plagues, they produce a wide variety of magical ritual objects of the nkisi type. Their masks are used by the association Ndunga or Djembe , but also for the funerals of dignitaries and during traditional initiations. Still others are reserved for soothsayers.
The Vili, the Lâri, the Sûndi, the Woyo, the Bembé, the Bwende, the Yombé and the Kôngo formed the group Kôngo , led by King ntotela. Their kingdom reached its apogee in the 16th century with the ivory, copper and slave trade. Similarly beliefs and traditions, they produced a statuary with a codified gesture in relation to their worldview.
Litt.: "Masks of Gabon" ed. Wakes
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