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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.

Benin Uhunmwun elao commemorative head
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African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Bénin head

African art from Benin is described as court art because it is closely associated with the king, known as the Oba. The tradition of bronze court objects in the Benin kingdom dates back to the 14th century. The many bronze alloy heads and statues created by Benin artists were reserved for the exclusive use of the inhabitants of the royal palace and, more often than not, placed on altars consecrated by each new Oba. These rectangular altars were topped with heads, statues, carved ivory tusks, bells and sticks. They were used to commemorate an oba and to make contact with his spirit. This late sculpture, reminiscent of those made at the death of the queen, depicts a queen mother of Benin named the Iyoba, whose neck is encircled with multiple coral bead necklaces. Her high headdress also ...

Yaka polychrome face mask
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African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Yaka Mask

This African Yaka mask with a handle sports the famous trumpet nose, a distinctive feature of the masks associated with the initiation ceremonies of societies Ngoni and Yiwilla . Their design aroused the creativity of the sculptors whom the chefs rewarded for their talent. The raffia beard is still present, and a wicker frame, on which cotton strips and ropes have been attached, forms a rigid headdress at the top. Surface erosions and traces of xylophages. Hierarchical and authoritarian, composed of fearsome warriors, the Yaka society, now established on the banks of the Waamba river in the south-west of the R.D.C. (Western Kasai), was ruled by lineage leaders with the right to life and death over their Topics. Hunting and the prestige that ensues are an opportunity today for the Yaka to ...

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Appuie-nuque Luba Shankadi
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African art > Head rest > Luba neck press

Ex-collection German African art.

The Luba are renowned for their statuary and in particular their neck-bearings and stools made up of a cariatidic figure. The female effigy adorning this neck support to preserve the complex headdress of its owner refers to Luba royalty. The neck supports were also used to support the heads of the deceased, and sometimes, according to Albert Maesen, buried in their place. The character embodying a spirit, endowed with a cascading hairstyle of the Shankadi tyle, is spotted in a crouching position, but on the hips. Velvety brown patina. 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.They were born from a secession of the Songhoy ethnic group, ...

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Chokwe heaume mask / Lwena Pwo
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African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Tschokwe Mask

Ex-French African art collection.
This voluminous African Tchokwe mask, with symmetrical features, has wide concave orbits in which the protruding coffee bean eyelids are fitted with a slit for vision. The slit teeth revealed by the gaping mouth are a reminder of traditional Tschokwe uses. The exposed ears are formed of a well-marked pavilion, and decorated with a loop indicated by a brass nail. The keloid marks of scarifications are also highlighted with brass. This mask would feature a woman pwo (woman) or mwana pwo (young woman). However, he is spiritually complete only equipped with his costume and accessories. Each of the many Masks of the Chokwe, in connection with a spirit mukishi (pl. akishi) has an individual name. Most of them take part in the initiation ceremonies of ...

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