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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.

Mbagani mask, Babindji
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African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Mbagani mask

Quite characteristic of the Mbagani, Babindji, the oversized kaolin-coated eye sockets stretch to the tiny ears. The triangular nose, the projected volumes of the mouth and the curved chin (break) also form distinctive elements of the Mbagani.
. Height on base: 49 cm.
The Mbagani come from the now extinct Mpasu group, itself a subgroup of the Lulua , or Béna Lulua , and to which the Salampasu also belong. Together with the Ding they form a group of 50,000 individuals established in the D.R.C. near the Angolan border. They have been marked by the influence of their neighbors Lunda and the former occupants Chokwe. Organized into small independent chiefdoms, they cultivate mainly maize, with women embroidering textiles woven by the men. The masks are said to be associated ...


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Bembé Echawokaba hem mask
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African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Bembé Mask

This African mask was used during the tribal ritual of the male society Kalunga , Alunga , exercising social control over the clan, and responsible for public dances and ceremonies before the hunt. A hem mask embodying the god Alunga, it has four high and wide concave orbits with a conical pupil in relief. Growths, on which were attached feathers, evoke small ears or horns. Its circular base is also equipped with perforations in order to be able to fix the raffia adornment to conceal its wearer. A vocation of a spirit of the forest, this mask was preserved in the sacred caves and it was during the feasts associated with hunting and the cults of ancestors that it was exhibited. Flat masks with the same concave orbits also appeared during the circumcision ceremonies of the Bwami . Dry, ...


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Bena Lulua handle mask
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African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Luluwa Mask

Used for circumcision rites and funerals of dignitaries, this Luluwa mask has a rounded crest and a handle that evokes a beard. Curvilinear motifs and keloids alternate on the surface. According to Rik Ceyssens in "Congo Masks" (p.156. ed. M.L.Félix) and as attested by the sketches of H.M.Lemme who accompanied Frobenius during his travels in the Congo, this pattern of looped scarification was widespread in various Luluwa sub-groups in 1905. The Bakwa also sported this type of tribal scarring. Height on base: 50 cm .
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It was in the south of the Democratic Republic of Congo that the Lulua , or Béna Lulua ,from West Africa settled. Their social structure, based on castes, is similar to that of the Luba. They produced few masks, but mostly statues of ancestors representing ...


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Kwese/Mbala Giteke figure
African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Mbala figure

Ex. Belgian African tribal art collection.
Among the many statues of the Mbalas, this type of statuette was part of the "pindi", sculptures integrating the chief's treasure. Small stocky character, hands joined under the chin, it has characteristics also kwésé, including the scarified features of the face. Grainy patina, cracks of desiccation. The Mbala came from Angola in the 17th century and settled in northwestern Zaire and in the east among the Pende, Suku, Pende, and Yaka. Formerly matrilineal, they were clans led by the maternal uncle. The chief was in charge of the ancestor cult, although it was quite limited. Following a retreat of a few days, royal insignia and charms were given to him, intended to combat powers opposing the hunt, social peace, and the harvest. ...


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350.00

Bakongo powder flask
African art > Used objects, pulleys, boxes, loom, awale > Powder flask

Piriform container with a stopper, intended to contain gunpowder for wooden rifle. This black powder was imported from Europe, which made it a luxurious commodity that was carefully preserved. This powder, which was also attributed with magical virtues, often completed the ingredients of ritual fetishes. The walls are delicately engraved with animal motifs and a decorative diamond pattern on the cap of the object. Dark satin patina. In the 13th century, the Kongo people, led by their king Ne Kongo, settled in a region at the crossroads of the present-day DRC, Angola and Gabon. Two centuries later, the Portuguese came into contact with the Kongo and converted their king to Christianity. Although monarchical, the Kongo political system had a democratic aspect because the king was ...


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190.00

Fang Byeri reliquary figure
African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Fang statue

The African art relating to the Byeri cult is illustrated by various anthropomorphic sculptures acting as "guardians" and incarnating the ancestor.
This asexual figure has a prognathic mouth revealing teeth. Under the joined hands, the tubular excrescence of the abdomen symbolizes the lineage. Black oily patina, locally grainy, cracks. The boxes containing the relics of illustrious ancestors were guarded by the oldest man in the village, the "esa". Surmounted by a statue or a head that acted as a guardian of the "byeri" boxes, they were stored in a dark corner of the hut, supposed to divert evil influences to someone else. They were also used during the initiation ceremonies of young people linked to the "So" society. During festivals, the statues were separated from their ...


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350.00

Mbole Ofika statue
African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Mbole statue

The sculptor Mbole has endowed the figure with a resigned and suffering physiognomy thanks to half-closed eyelids and a narrow mouth in a pale face. The position is characteristic: legs bent, arms folded in an unnatural way, hands placed on the thighs. Black brown patina, white highlights. Misses and cracks from desiccation. The Lualaba province had several closely related ethnic groups with similar associations. The Mbole are known for their statues embodying, according to D. Biebuck ,of the hanged, named ofika . The lilwa , an association with dogmatic initiation rites, had a custom of judging and sentencing to hanging those guilty of infractions of the imposed rules. These offenses ranged from murder to adultery to breaking the secrecy encircling the lilwa . Dishonored, the ...


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150.00

Senoufo Kpeliye mask
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African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Senoufo mask

The African masks of the Senufo are worn by male members of the Poro society, an institution that controls political and economic life.
Growths of various shapes alternate around the face of this narrow mask. It is surmounted by an animal scene in the form of a stylized sculpted motif.
Black, grainy patina. "Kpélié" meaning "mask that jumps", this mask is also worn during initiations symbolically marking a death followed by a rebirth. Kept in the sacred enclosure named sezang in order to remove them from the gaze of the uninitiated, their function is to honor the elders or even appear at funerals. Anthropomorphic masks would mainly chase the spirit of the deceased from its place of residence. Living in a reserved area, the senufo sculptor, whose training ...


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Big Dogon Gate
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African art > Used objects, pulleys, boxes, loom, awale > Dogon Gate

The systems of closure of the Sudanese regions in African art
This ancient door Dogon equipped with its lock, carefully carved, evokes by its anthropomorphic and zoomorphic representations the rich cosmogon Dogon. According to Dogon mythology, the first inhabitants of the Bandiagara area crossed the river on the back of a crocodile. They appear horizontally on the top of the door shutters. The characters can symbolize previous generations, mythical ancestors, but the owners of the attic also appear frequently. The door consists of two vertical panels that hold large staples métalliques.br
The motifs present on the doors in Mali, apart from their decorative value, are intended to deter the intruder, whether human or animal, from entering. The locks, like the doors, are cut from ...


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Yoruba Ere Ibeji figure
African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Yoruba figure

Ex Belgian African art collection.
Witnessing the great diversity of twin sculptures made according to the indications of the Ifa transmitted to the diviner, the babalawo, this polychrome statuette played the role of substitute for the death of the child.
Slight surface chips and old restoration.
This ibedji is then treated as the missing child would have been. It is the mother who must take care of him; she can wash and feed him regularly. If she dies, it is the remaining twin who takes over.
Considered as much more than a physical representation of a loved one, the ibedji influences the life of the family, which is why the latter continues to address prayers to him and to dedicate worship and libations to him.

These pieces are among the ...


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290.00

Lega Kayamba small mask
African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Lega mask

This African Lega mask of reduced size is flanked by erect horns that allow its identification. Satin patina, residual kaolin. These masks indicated the stage the holder had reached within the Bwami, a learning society composed of different ranks, and joined by wives whose spouses had reached the third level, that of the ngandu. Sold with base. Total height: 24 cm.

Within the Lega, the Bwami society open to men and women,organized social and political life. There were up to seven levels of initiation, each associated with emblems. Following their exodus from Uganda in the seventeenth century, the Lega settled on the west bank of the Lualaba River in the DRC. Also known as Warega, they live in self-contained villages surrounded by palisades, usually on hilltops. The role of ...


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290.00

Kuba Bushoong Cup
African art > Jars, amphoras, pots, matakam > Kuba Cup

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Abundance of decorative carvings in African Kuba art.
The anthropomorphic cup probably symbolizes the character of Bwoom in masked royal dances. It is formed of heads superimposed on legs. Different forms of cups were sculpted whose ornamentation sought to glorify the qualities of their owners. Satin patina, abrasions and cracks of desiccation.
The extremely organized and hierarchical Kuba society placed at its center a king or nyim inspiring the statuary of the ethnic group.
This one was considered to be of divine origin. At the same time chief of the kingdom and of the Bushoong chieftaincy, he was attributed supernatural virtues stemming from sorcery or from the ancestors. He was therefore responsible for the survival of his subjects, whether it was ...


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90.00

Protective figure Bena Lulua
African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Lulua figure

The different types of statues Luluwa, Lulua, or Bena Lulua, with multiple scarifications, glorify local chiefs, maternity, fertility and the female figure.
Belonging to the cult Buanga bua cibola , this female figure is believed to protect children and pregnant women. Through the position of the hands in fact, this figure highlights a prominent abdomen, the center of the body and "object of all solicitudes" (The Power of the Sacred , M. Faïk-Nzuji ) Salient scarifications adorn the body. Satin brown patina.
Glossy black patina, desiccation cracks.
It was in the south of the Democratic Republic of Congo that the Lulua, or Béna Lulua, settled from West Africa. Their social structure, based on castes, is similar to that of the Luba. They produced few ...


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140.00

Kongo Solongo Nkisi Fetish
African art > The fetish, this emblematic object of primitive art > Kongo Fetish

Fetishes of power in tribal art.
. Naturalistic human figure whose head is characteristic of the Solongo of Angola, the latter supplying the Kongo clans. The wide eyes constitute "the prerogative of an elder. Indeed, only people of mature age can stare at us with such insistence in order to alert us to problems or blunders." ("The Kongo Gesture")
Placed on the abdomen, in a glass cavity that a resinous cluster seals, ingredients constitute the magical charge. Among the Kongo, metal accessories are supposed to reinforce the power.
Desiccation cracks.
In the Kongo kingdom, the nganga would perform rituals by activating a spiritual force with a nkondi (pl. nkissi). The term nkisi was later used to designate the notions of "sacred" or "divine". ...


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280.00

Kongo Vili diviner bell
African art > Used objects, pulleys, boxes, loom, awale > Kongo bell

Ex. Belgian African tribal art collection.
This type of bell, an emblem of dignitary power, was used during the manipulation and activation of a Nkisi by the diviner or Nganga. The sides are incised with geometric shapes. The music produced by the bell is said to appeal to the spirits. These objects are found in the Khimba initiation society or the peacemaking association lemba with a figure bent forward at the top of the bell.
The Vili, the Lâri, the Sûndi, the Woyo, the Bembé, the Bwende, the Yombé, and the Kôngo formed the Kôngo group, headed by the king ntotela. Their kingdom reached its peak in the 16th century with the ivory and copper trade and the slave trade. With the same beliefs and traditions, they produced a statuary with a codified gesture related to ...


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180.00

Songye Kifwebe mask
African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Songye mask

The tribal masks of the Songye .
African mask of the Songye ethnic group, in the south of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Featuring a high sagittal crest, this mask, here of reduced size, is considered masculine, in contrast to the feminine one highlighted by a ridge. The prominent features give it a powerful character. Matt patina, abrasions.
Three variants of this Kifwebe( pl. Bifwebe) or "chasing death"(Roberts)mask can be distinguished: the masculine (kilume) generally with a high crest, the feminine (kikashi) with a very low crest or even absent, and finally the largest embodying power (kia ndoshi). This type of mask, still used today, is worn with a long costume and a long beard made of natural fibers, absent on this example, during major ...


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250.00

Wé / Bété mask
African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Wé mask

A nose with hooked appendages and a split forehead give this African tribal mask from the Bete/We ethnic group a most fantastic appearance. Red ochre pigmented highlights mark the forehead and mouth, white clay for the bulbous eyelids.
Smooth satin patina.
It is mainly in the west of the Ivory Coast that the Bété employ masks whose style has been influenced by the society of masks gla of the Wobé and Guéré populations, group called Wé or "men who forgive easily", itself belonging to the cultural group Krou , these traditions having been transmitted and taught to them by the Nyabwa . Of warlike origin but also participating in the resolution of conflicts, this sacred mask is worn accompanied by amulets that protect its wearer from its power against witchcraft. ...


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280.00

Boa mask
African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Boa mask

Supposed to make invulnerable and in order to terrify the enemy, the African mask kpongadomba or " Pongdudu " of the Boa was ordered by the chief kumu who offered it to the most valiant warrior . It was then kept in his wife's hut. Two-tone patina, erosions.
Height on base: 32 cm. Close to the Mangbetu and the Zande, the Boa inhabit the savannah in the north of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Some Boa would have used these masks for educational purposes with children since the pacification of the Uele region.


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280.00

Ndop Kuba statue
African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Ndop statue

Embodiment of the king in African Kuba art sculpture. Of divine origin for his subjects, the king is represented sitting cross-legged on the royal platform, unable to touch the ground. As head of the kingdom and of the Bushoong chieftaincy, "nyim", he was attributed with supernatural abilities resulting from sorcery or the ancestors. He was therefore responsible for the survival of his subjects, whether it was through the harvests, the rain or the birth of children. However, these magical attributes were not hereditary. Black satin patina. Abrasions.
During the last days of the king's life, the memorial statue was placed at his bedside so that it would capture his vital energy as the object would outlive him. According to Cornet (1982), these statues were intended for ...


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290.00

Lega Sakimatwematwe statue
African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Lega statue

The African art lega and initiation media Sakimatwematwe (Multi-headed).
Related to a Lega proverb, endowed with two or more heads, this sculpture would always illustrate the need for a holistic view of events, and thus the prudence, wisdom, and impartiality that should follow.(Biebuyck 1973) Belonging to an initiate of the Bwami, among the many others used throughout the initiations, this carved object features faces directed toward the four cardinal points.
The teacher guided the aspirant to a place where masks and statuettes were displayed, and it was through careful observation that the future initiate had to guess the more or less complex meaning of these metaphors, the latter referring largely to proverbs and sayings. Those who were not allowed to see the ...


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130.00

Chewa Nyao mask from Malawi
African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Nyaun mask

Ex-collection African tribal art from France.
This African mask comes from the Chewa of Malawi. It is used during the ceremonies of the initiatory society Nyaun or Nyao , an association found in the regions near Lake Malawi: eastern Zambia, western Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe among immigrants from Malawi.
These masks featuring rounded faces are painted in bright colors, such as this Chewa face mask whose features consist of painted almond-shaped eyes, prominent cheeks, a short, slightly upturned nose, and a mouth split into a wide rictus. Local matt polychrome patina. Height on base : 41 cm.


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480.00





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