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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.

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

The African masks Lega are used as part of the initiations of the Bwami society, open to men and women. Some were not carried, but placed on a rack or held in the hand. The passage of a rank indicated the acquisition of a certain individual wisdom and morality. Abraded two-tone patina. Erosions.
Height on base: 37 cm.
Within the Léga, 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 during the 17th century, the Lega settled on the west bank of the Lualaba River in the DRC. The role of chief, kindi, is held by the oldest man in the clan, who must be the highest ranking. Social recognition and authority also had to be earned individually: ...


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

Primitive Lega sculptures in African art. This mask, which was not intended to be worn, but manipulated during rituals, displays heart-shaped eye sockets and coffee-bean eyelids, a simply incised mouth, giving it an enigmatic expression. Smooth satin patina, whose center is coated with kaolin. This African Lega mask indicated the stage that its holder had reached in the Bwami, an apprenticeship society composed of different grades, which was joined by wives whose spouses had reached the third level, that of ngandu . Total height on pedestal: 27 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 during the 17th century, ...


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Hemba mask
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African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Hemba mask

Belgian African art collection.
According to the Hemba, the spirit of a primate is embodied in this type of African mask with a wide grin occupying the lower part of the face. The imposing volume of the nose, under the circled eyes, is also a notable element. Velvety dark patina.
Only two types of Hemba masks have been identified: that of an anthropomorphic type with regular features, whose pointed chin recalls statuary, and those depicting monkeys, the soko mutu, and whose functions remain little known, but which belonged probably, according to J.Kerchache, to the bugabo and bambudye secret societies. The smallest copies (about twenty centimeters) would have been carried by hand during rites intended for the protection of the home and for fertility. Besides the janiform ...


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Hemba mask
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African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Hemba mask

According to the Hemba, the spirit of a primate is embodied in this type of African mask with a wide grin occupying the lower part of the face. The imposing volume of the nose, under the circled eyes, is also a notable element. Velvety dark patina. Abrasions and localized crack at the top.
Only two types of Hemba masks have been identified: that of an anthropomorphic type with regular features, whose pointed chin recalls statuary, and those depicting monkeys, the soko mutu, and whose functions remain little known, but which belonged probably, according to J.Kerchache, to the bugabo and bambudye secret societies. The smallest copies (about twenty centimeters) would have been carried by hand during rites intended for the protection of the home and for fertility. Besides the ...


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Ashanti doll
African art > African Dolls > Ashanti doll

Akuaba doll statuettes (plural Akua'mma) are amulets used by Ashanti women to promote fertility. They are easily identifiable thanks to their simplified structure. Their circular head has a high forehead occupying the upper part, the features are generally drawn in the lower third of the face. Dark satin patina.
This people considers the woman as the final arbiter of all decisions. Fertility and children are the most common themes evoked in Ashanti woodcarvings. This ethnic group has built a relatively democratic society based on the moral value of the individual. The Ashanti founded a monarchy in the 17th century. The identities of the various Akan ethnic groups have been influenced by both Islam and Christianity.


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Fetish Kusu
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African art > The fetish, this emblematic object of primitive art > Fetish Kusu

The personal protection figures kakudjis, used by the Hemba, the Kusu and the Kasongos, were inspired by Songye fetishes. The magic charge, composed of ingredients of various origins, is inserted at the top of the head. Satin black brown patina.
The Kusu established on the left bank of the Lualaba have borrowed the artistic traditions of the Luba and the Hemba and have a caste system similar to that Luba . The Kasongos form a Kusu sub-group, now scattered among the Luba, Songye and Hemba. The singiti statues were kept by the fumu mwalo and honored during ceremonies during which sacrifices were offered to them. Alongside the authority of the hereditary chiefs, secret societies, male such as the bukazanzi, and female, the bukibilo, played a major role within the clan.


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Kanyok Figure
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African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Kanyok Figure

Entwined creatures, close faces, necks and hips are draped in leather. Oiled grayish black patina. clear residual encrustations. Small erosions on the legs.

Living in the east of the Luba kingdom on the banks of the Mbujimayi, and having adopted part of the Luba culture, the Kanyok, Kanioc, or even Bena Kanioka, created prestigious objects, water pipes, neckrests, sticks, and stools, and are best known for statuettes depicted in different postures, made of dark wood and wearing bun hairstyles. According to the Kanyok religion, human beings consist of three parts: body, soul and spirit. They believe in a supreme being named Tang a Ngoy. The initiation of young people traditionally included, in addition to circumcision, the filing of teeth.


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Luba rattle
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African art > Used objects, pulleys, boxes, loom, awale > Luba rattle

Considered a "bankishi", this African sculpture would be endowed, in the Luba culture, with powerful magical and apotropaic powers. These objects come in different forms, including this female figure perched on three superimposed calabashes. The posture, hands positioned on the breasts, reminds us that the secrets of royalty belong to women thanks to their role as political and spiritual intermediaries. This object was used within the framework of the Bugabo association, linked to hunting, healing and combat. It was customary during rituals to fill the calabash with magical ingredients in order to enhance its power. The ingredients used produced a sound when the object was shaken, and was only sealed at the end of the ceremony.
(Luba, Roberts)


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Luba rattle
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African art > Used objects, pulleys, boxes, loom, awale > Luba rattle

Ex collection Of Belgian African art. Exhibit collected 'in situ' 1949.

Thusit is a luba rattle consisting of three hollowed-out gourds placed on a stem surmounted by a small monoxyle figure placed on a circular base.

The Luba (Baluba in Tchiluba) are a people of Central Africa. Their cradle is the Katanga, specifically the region of the Lubu River, hence 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 killed the old king Kongolo, who has since been revered as a python.
In the 16th century, the Luba created a decentralized, organized state of chiefdom stretching from the Kasai River to Lake Tanganyika.
The chiefdoms cover a small territory without a real ...


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

Characteristic of the African art of the Solongo of Angola, a tribe of the Kongo group, this type of work representing a human figure perched on the shoulders of a second, was used during the rites of handing over of powers. Missing at the base. Semi-satin brown patina.
Known for supplying the colonial market with carved ivory tusks, the Solongo were the first to come into contact with the Portuguese in the 15th century. Their realistic statuary consists of nkonde figures of power stabbed with nails, maternity sculptures, various fetishes, masks and prestige objects. Source: "the Kongo gesture" Ed. Dapper Museum


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Baule statue
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African art > Maternity, statues, bronze, wood > Baule statue

Ex-collection of French African tribal art.
For the Baoule, seeing a woman's genitals can be fatal for a man. The depiction of a female figure, naked, unclothed by a loincloth of cloth, forms a threat. She is probably the embodiment of a female goddess. Represented seated, featuring a child, the woman wears traditional keloid scars, glass beaded necklaces and a hairstyle whose chiseled braids on the wood form large shells. Brilliant dark brown patina. Lack of base.

Two types of statues are produced by the Baoulé in the ritual framework: The Waka-Sona statues, be wooden in baoulé, evoke a silish oussou, being from the earth. They are 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 ...


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Fanti doll
African art > African Dolls > Fanti doll

African Fanti art is illustrated by its fertility dolls worn by pregnant women, who must not lay eyes on a deformed being for fear of conceiving such a child. On the other hand, looking at these dolls, expressions of idealized beauty, they are supposed to favor the appearance of their future children.
This limbless statuette is adorned with fine glass bead necklaces and has a medium brown patina. These dolls carved among the Fante or Fanti, an Akan population of the coastal regions of Ghana, the former Gold Coast, form a different version of those of the Ashanti. Their function is however more or less similar. The head here adopts a rectangular shape.


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Kumu Mask
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African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Kumu Mask

The masks nsembu, embodying the spirit of divination, appear as a couple during the rituals of the society nkunda , babankunda. This shallow model features minimalist features under a slightly protruding forehead. The quadrangular mouth reveals wooden teeth. Beautiful patina encrusted with kaolin residue. Desication cracks.
High on a base: 62 cm.
The Kumu, Bakumu and Komo, live mainly in the North-East and central Areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Their Bantu language is komo or kikomo. Several ethnic groups are closely intertwined, with similar associations: the Mbole, the Yela, the Lengola, and the Metoko. Their artistic production also has great similarities with that of the Metoko and Lengola. Their divination masks were displayed during the closing ceremonies of ...


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

Work carved in dense wood, this female figure offers proportions and a posture reminiscent of Hemba statuary. The braided hairstyle organized in large parallel shells and the scarifications of the bust are however typically zela. The large globes house half-closed almond-shaped lids, imparting a meditative expression to a face with serene features.
Grainy matte patina. Erosions and desiccation cracks.
Formerly subject to the Luba, then to the Lundas, the Zela have adopted a large part of their customs and traditions. Established between the Luvua River and Lake Kisalé, they are today organized into four chiefdoms under the supervision of leaders of Luba origin. They venerate a primordial couple frequently represented in the statuary, mythical ancestors, and dedicate ...


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180.00

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

Ex-Belgian African art collection.
This African statue is used by different Luba societies, more generally by members of the Bambuye, Bakasandji, or Batambwe societies. The Mbudye soothsayers also used it. It was a question, individually or collectively, of consulting the spirits of the ancestors through specialists. The face has similarities with the Songye, a large head surmounting a neck extending a bust on which the hands are placed. The stepped hairstyle is typical of the Shankadi, a Luba subgroup. The lower body is concealed by a fabric attached and glued to the legs thanks to a crusty patina of use, slight abrasions of use. According to P. Nooter, these figures, seated or kneeling depending on the case, also represented the diviner's wife, which underlines its importance in ...


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

Harmonious shapes and posture associated with fertility and royal secrets for this statuette. This attitude indicates that the secrets of royalty, bizila, belong to women thanks to their role as political and spiritual intermediaries. The hairstyle was made of braids and copper wires. The so-called "ear-shaped" scarifications, "tactile mnemonic code", are recurrent. This type of figure was also used in the context of fertility rituals: young women lacking breast milk came to touch the chest of the statue in the hope of breastfeeding more abundantly.

Oiled patina.
The Luba (Baluba in Chiluba) 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”). The Luba have two main ...


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120.00

Kwele Mask
African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Kwele Mask

Ex-collection of French African art.
Mask Kwele Pipibuze, Pipibudze, ("the man") symbolizing the light and clairvoyance necessary to fight against the forces of witchcraft. This mask is topped with horns wrapping laterally around the face in which the arches are hollowed out in the heart. The zoomorphic attributes evoke the antelope or duinker, the main game of the region kwele. This type of mask was not always intended to be worn, but adorned the walls of the huts. Discreet kaolin residues, powdery matt patina.
Depending on the presence of horns and their arrangement, the masks are named pibibibudzé , Ekuku zokou , etc...and are associated with ancestors or spirits of the forest, " ekuk ". Tribe of the Kota group, the Kwélé , Bakwélé , live in the forest on the ...


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160.00

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

Extending a wide headband chiselled with checkerboards, braids in vegetable fibers, then a hood, adorn this African mask of the Chokwe worn by initiates of high rank. This adornment is reminiscent of the hairstyle coated with red earth of the Chokwe women. Smooth orange-brown patina.
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 or "akixi" (sing: mukishi, indicating power) masks of Chokwe tribal art , are exclusively female representations which were accompanied by accessories and finery. Together with their male counterparts, cihongo recognizable by their large plate-shaped headdress, the ...


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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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Holo panel
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African art > Used objects, pulleys, boxes, loom, awale > Holo panel

Sculpture dedicated to the cults of affliction nzaambi, also practiced by the Yaka, rituals intended for the difficulties whose divinatory practices had been able to establish the source. If the Holo were probably inspired by Christian iconography, they honored spirits and not a single god. Often intended to promote hunting, fertility or good health, these sculptures had to be ritually coated by the person concerned with different substances. Orange-brown patina. Erosions and small accidents. Height on base: 32 cm.
Located in the Democratic Congo between the Yaka and the Tchokwé of Angola, the small Holo ethnic group migrated from the Angolan coast to settle near the banks of the Kwango. The Holo produced helm masks and prestige items such as openwork panels for the ruling ...


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Mossi Nakomse Statues
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African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Mossi Nakomse Statues

Former Private Belgian collection of African art.

The body is straight, the arms hang along the body. The face has scarifications on its outline. A very fine sagittal crest is observed and engraved with lines simulating the hair. The patina is raw and has beautiful traces of desication.

The Mossi society was structured and hierarchical by its invaders as early as the 15th century. The two populations mixed and progeny over the decades The name Nakomse refers to the descendants of the Islamic horsemen, among whom political leaders were always chosen. Religious leaders were always descended from the natives, also known as Tengabibisi.

It is not surprising to find in the Mossi and Dogon some similarities in the statuary and aesthetics of masks. Indeed, the ...


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