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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.

Dan maske
African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Dan maske

Integrated into a mask depicting a human face, a curved, bifid beak extends this African mask of the Dan Yacouba from the banks of the Cavally River, between Côte d'Ivoire and Liberia. A garland of metal bells and fangs, attached to a raffia trim, highlights the face of this work of African tribal art. Grainy satin patina, erosions.
The Dan populations of the north known as Yacouba of Côte d'Ivoire and the Maou of Touba (Maouka), and those of the northeast of Liberia, after having borrowed them from the neighboring Mandé people, use them in the secret masculine ceremonies of which the Koma of the Maou Guerze of Liberia call it Nyomu . When they are not accompanying a small orchestra at entertainment parties, the mask-singers perform at night, during traditional rites, in order to ...

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Statue Songye
African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Statue Songye

African art and fetishes nkisi
This fetish statue Nkisi , nkishi (pl. mankishi) does not seem to have passed into the hands of the fetishist, the umbilical, hollowed out in cup, not having a magic charge. Other elements strengthening its "power ", and associated with rituals, such as horn, necklaces, insertion or metal veneer, being also absent. The particularity of these objects most often resides in the angular treatment of the form, the imposing triangular face whose chin blends into the beard, the mouth cracks raised in rictus, and the attitude deported to the front of the bulging belly. Dark brown patina with blackish residual inlays, satin touch. Desication cracks.

These home protection fetishes are among the most prized in Africa. Nkisi plays the role of mediator ...

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Songye fetish
promo art africain
African art > The fetish, this emblematic object of primitive art > Songye fetish

Statuette Nkisi, nkishi (pl. mankishi) at the top of which a horn has been inserted by the point. The power of the fetish, according to the beliefs of the Songye, would be reinforced by the presence of its accessories, metal and, or, various additions of materials, vegetable fibers, animal skins, dried fruits, etc... Beautiful abraded light brown patina.< br /> These protective fetishes for homes are among the most popular in Africa. The Nkisi plays the role of mediator between gods and men. The large specimens are the collective property of an entire village, while the smaller figures belong to an individual or a family. In the 16th century, the Songyes migrated from the Shaba region to settle on the left bank of the Lualaba. Their society is organized in a patriarchal way. Their ...

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Benin Plate
African art > Bronze, leopard, messenger, warrior, statue, pirogues > Benin Plate

Ex-collection French African art.
Before the destruction of the palace of the Kingdom of Benin in 1897, the divine character of kings, the Oba , was illustrated by multiple works celebrating their power. In African tribal art, glorifying war scenes were reproduced on narrative plates, in bronze, and affixed to the walls. Sumptuous bronze altars, commemorative figures of deceased chefs, majestic felines, heavy bracelets, hairs and recades were produced in quantity in many workshops of smelters according to the technique of cast iron with lost wax. During the 16th century, oba Esigie commissioned the first copper alloy plates with embossed ornamentation. Many of them were cast in pairs to symmetrically decorate the pillars or walls of the palace. Olfert Dapper describes these plaques ...

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Statue Baoule
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African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Statue Baoule

Ex-collection French African art.
This Waka-Sona African Statue, being of wood in baoulé, evokes a assed oussou, being from the earth. It is part of a type of statues intended to be used as a medium tool by the soothsayers komian, the latter being selected by the spirits asye usu in order to communicate the revelations of the afterlife. The second type of statues are the spouses of the afterlife, male, Blolo bian or feminine, the blolo bia . The entire body and face are decorated with rectangular checkerboard patterns in reference to tribal scarifications, and parallel lines in relief depicting bracelets. The character holds a beard that was stiffened by shea oil anointings. These statues were kept on the altar olyo where sacrifices were made to the spirits. Irregular and grainy ...

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Kusu statue
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African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Kusu statue

Individual protection figures such as our example, used by the Hemba and Kusu, were inspired by Songye fetishes. The magic charge was inserted into the cavity at the top of the head.
Satin patina, abrasions and cracks. The Kusu settled on the left bank of the Lualaba borrowed artistic traditions from the Luba and Hemba and have a caste system similar to that of the Luba. 
The Hemba on the other hand have settled in southeastern Zaire on the right bank of the Lualaba River. Once under the domination of the Luba, these farmers and hunters practice ancestor worship by means of effigies long attributed to the Luba. The statues singiti were kept by the fumu mwalo and honored in ceremonies during which sacrifices were offered to them. Alongside the ...

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Senoufo Korobla Mask
African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Korobla Mask

This African senoufo mask with a round head, exorbitant pupils, wide toothed jaw and zoomorphic ears, is named "c redeemer of fire" (Korobla). It is sometimes accessorized with magical attributes. Patine mate. Residual libations. Very good state of preservation.
The Senoufo, the name given to them by french settlers, are mainly made up of farmers who have dispersed between Mali, Côte d'Ivoire, and Burkina Faso. The councils of elders, led by an elected chief, administer the senoufo villages.
Representations of hybrid beings, the zoomorphic African masks of Sénufo are worn by members of the Poro society, an institution that controls political and economic life. Their function is to honour the elders or to appear at funerals, hence their name, poniugo , " funeral head". ...

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Tambour Zande
African art > Tam Tam, Djembe, musical instruments > Tambour Zande

A zande percussion musical, this wooden idiophone is carved from a human bust. It extends in the shape of a dugout at the feet of which a character is depicted sitting, hands on ears. A long slit acts as a resonance opening. The walls are engraved with different decorative motifs. Satin patina.
odies referred to as " Niam-Niam " because they are considered anthropophages, the tribes grouped under the name Zande , Azandé , settled, from Chad, on the border of R.D.C.(Zaire), Sudan and the Central African Republic. According to their beliefs, man is endowed with two souls, one of whom turns into a totem animal of the clan to which he belongs. The African tribal art of the Zande, or "these who own a lot of land", apart from their court art consisting of spoons, receptable, pipes and ...

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 Sapi figure
African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Sapi figure

Among the tribes living in Sierra Leone, Mende and Kissi, mostly rice farmers, worship stone statues from the Sapi kingdom. The latter extended, until the 16th century, from Guinea to Liberia.The Temné organized themselves into chiefdoms led by a supreme leader. The society ragbenle or mneke, responsible for fertility, intervened at the death of the chief. The association bundu, for its part, prepared the girls for their adult lives. The Temne and bullom have made a lot of 'Afro-Portuguese' ivories European orders. The 'nomoli' Begged, placed on altars, benefited from libations in order to increase the harvests. These stone sculptures, mostly in steatite or saponite, called pombo (deceased) played, on the other hand, among the Kissi of Guinea, an intermediary role with the ancestors. The ...

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Statue Senoufo
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African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Statue Senoufo

This feminine figure is surmounted by a lidded container, carved with a bird, symbol of divination. Speckled patina. Light wood on which remains greyish residues of oily coating. Many erosions. Mr. Brunel, a chemist by training, has crisscrossed Africa: Zaire, Kenya, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Guinea,... Until his death, he will have accumulated nearly 600 pieces. Piece entrusted by his legatees.
The Senoufos, the name given to them by French settlers, are mainly made up of farmers who have dispersed between Mali, Côte d'Ivoire, and Burkina Faso. The councils of elders, led by an elected chief, administer the senoufo villages. Governed by matrilineal traditions, they are composed of clusters of dwellings named katiolo . Each of them has its own association Poro which introduces young boys ...

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Baluba Sceptre
African art > Stick of command, chieftaincy > Baluba Sceptre

This object of African art, from a private Antwerp collection, is formed of a rectangular flat, extended by a stick engraved in its upper part of parallel lines arranged in triangles, and then a female figure in round-bump. The character is endowed, limited by a checkered headband, with a braided hairstyle called "en cascade", like the Luba women's headdresses in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as evidenced by the photographs taken at the time. Large hollowed-out eye sockets shelter stretched and closed eyelids, and a small mouth appears in a prognathic chin. The protruding of the abdomen is highlighted by the position of digitized hands, the realistic figuration of sexual organs further accentuating the reference to motherhood and fertility. The buttocks also have protrusions, ...

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Small mask Hemba Ibombo ya soho
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African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Hemba Mask

The Hemba are a subgroup of the Luba ethnic group living in southeastern Dr. Congo, east of the Lualaba River. They are best known for their statuary representing chiefs. The pieces called soko mutu , suku muntu , (from Swahili," man's brother", and KiHemba, ibombo ya soho : "face de singe") belonged to the cult of ancestors and existed in two forms: on the one hand large masks used in ritual dances, and on the other hand, small masks or statuettes used as gifts, were hung in the boxes as protective amulets. These masks have recently been renamed mwisi gwa so'o , which expresses a concept that it is a chimpanzee spirit that would be embodied in the mask. The asymmetrical, split eyes are separated from a ribbed nasal appendage in a central extension of the eyebrow arch. A large slit ...

Yoruba figures
African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Yoruba figures

These sculptures of golden beige hue, embodying twins, are accessorized with their "abiku" protective ornaments made of metal, shells and beads. Their characteristics link them to the egba style. Desiccation cracks.
In the language of the Yoruba people, ibeji means twin: ibi for born and eji for two. They represent the figure of a deceased twin. This ibedji is then treated as the missing child would have been. It is the mother who has to take care of him; she can wash and feed him regularly. If she dies, the remaining twin takes over.
Sometimes a man would also have ibeji carved for his wife to induce pregnancy. As a carrier of the twin's soul, the ibeji influences the life of the family, becoming a source of benefit to his parents, who continue to offer prayers and ...

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Statuette Dogon
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African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Statuette Dogon

French African art collection.
Sculpture acquired in a Parisian art gallery, depicting a kneeling female being, adorned with bracelets. It offers four janiform heads carrying a container. The tubular beards extending the faces rest on cylindrical shoulders. The dogon decorative motifs, in broken lines, associated with traditional scarifications, are engraved on the surface. They refer to dogon cosmogony. Abraded brown patina. Desication cracks.
Sculpted mostly by a family, Dogon statues can also be worshipped by the entire community. Their functions, however, remain little known. Parallel to Islam, the Dogon religious rites are organized around four main cults: the Lebe, relating to fertility, under the spiritual authority of the Hogon, the Wagem, cult of ancestors under the ...

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Tschokwe mask
African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Tschokwe mask

Always worn by initiates of higher rank, this type of African mask embodying a female ancestor was often embellished with buttons and accessories of European origin. Raffia braids adorn the hairstyle and the face offering the classic traditional features and marks of the Pwo. Satin black patina.
Height on base: 43 cm.

Peacefully settled in eastern Angola until the 16th century, the Chokwé were then subjected to the Lunda empire from which they inherited a new hierarchical system and the sacredness of power. African Chokwe pwo masks, among the many akishi (sing: mukishi, indicating power) masks of African Chokwe art, embody an ideal of beauty, Mwana Pwo, or the woman Pwo and appear nowadays during festive ceremonies. Joined to their male counterparts, chihongo ...

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Luba statuette
African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Luba statuette

The Luba consider the degree of effectiveness of their carved objects according to their refinement. Among the Lubas of Kasai, the production of ritual objects has been greatly influenced by the neighboring Songye and Chokwe ethnic groups. This statuette bears particular scarifications, in checkerboard pattern, and a hairstyle reminiscent of that of the Punus. Black satin patina. Small erosion and minimal cracks.
The Luba (Baluba in Tchiluba) are a people of Central Africa. Their cradle is Katanga, more precisely the region of the Lubu River, thus the name (Baluba, which means "the Lubas"). They were born from a secession of the Songhoy ethnic group, under the leadership of Ilunga Kalala, who had the old king Kongolo, who has since been venerated in the form of a python, die. ...

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Kuba pin
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African art > Used objects, pulleys, boxes, loom, awale > Kuba pin

French African art collection
In African art any everyday object can become an artistic support. Brown patina for this Kuba hairpin, surmounted by a face with finely sculpted features.
The Kuba are renowned for the refinement of prestige items created for members of the high ranks of their society. Particularly organized and hierarchical, it placed in its center a king or nyim inspiring the statuary of the ethnic group. This was considered to be of divine origin. Both head of the kingdom and of the bushoong chiefdom, he was attributed supernatural virtues from witchcraft or ancestors. He therefore ensured the sustainability of his subjects, whether through harvests, rain or the birth of children. Source: Kuba, ed. 5continents, Binkley and Darish.

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Mbole mask
African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Mbole mask

The African Mbole mask such as this example comes into play during the funerals of Lilwa dignitaries or is used by the blacksmith during circumcision rituals. Relatively flat, only the eyes and the mouth are notched, the art of the eyebrows dug, a reduced nose composing a low relief. Velvety two-tone matte patina.
Height on base: 43 cm.
The province of Lualaba had several close ethnic groups with similar associations. The Mbole and the Yela are known for their statues embodying, according to D. Biebuck, hanged men, named ofika. The lilwa , an association with dogmatic initiation rites, used to judge and sentence to hanging those guilty of violations of the imposed rules. These offenses ranged from murder to adultery to breaking the secrecy surrounding the lilwa. Dishonored, ...

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Kota reliquary
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African art > Reliquaries, statues > Kota reliquary

The baskets containing the relics of illustrious ancestors, generally surmounted by two reliquaries, were kept in the temples of the village. One of them embodied the founder of the lineage, and the second his descendants. Ancestor worship, the bwete (Northern Kota) was at the heart of the social and religious life of the Kota and has many analogies with that of the Fang. In the exclusive presence of initiates, the major decisions of the clan were taken during ceremonies during which the reliquaries were taken out and used. In order to reactivate the magic charge, the initiates rubbed the relic with sand. Among the Kota, these figures have reached an astonishing degree of stylization and abstraction: reduced to shoulders and "arms" surmounted by a large face, the latter can be concave ...

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Dan mask
African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Dan mask

This African face mask embellished with upholstery nails is associated with the totemic animals of the Dan tribes. Belonging to the Kran , Dan sub-group established in a minority way in Côte d'Ivoire but especially in Liberia, it has prominent reliefs including a flat forehead, in circular visor, associated with three side panels in semicircles framing two hooked noses. The narrow, flat orbital cavities are pierced in triangles. A toothed mouth consisting of two articulated beaks, placed side by side, completes the extravagant hybrid face.
Grainy two-tone patina, partially chipped, break on the front.
The Kran practice an animistic religion, revere their ancestors, and are organized into a secret society called gla. This mask also appears nowadays during ceremonies ...

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Markha mask
African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Markha mask

Triangular volume in which the sharp lines affirm a solemn physiognomy. The forehead is underlined with cowries, encrusted in a resinous material, forming linear patterns. These patterns are discreetly repeated on the face, engraved on the surface in a succession of small circles. Interesting oiled brown patina dotted with erosions.
In African art, the Marka , Maraka in Bamana, Warka, or Sarakolé, are Muslim city dwellers of Soninke origin, established in southern Niger, scattered since the end of the Ghana Empire in Mali, Mauritania and Senegal . They now speak Bamana and have adopted many of the Bambara traditions, such as the Ntomo and the Koré, initiation societies that used masks during their ceremonies. The Bambara and Marka African art sculptors are part of the ...

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