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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.

Statuette Teke
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African art > African Statues > Statue Teke

A massive neck is topped with a face with voluntary expression. The rectangular beard overlooks a body whose abdomen has been hollowed out to contain the mystical charge called Bonga. A difference in hue between the body and legs demonstrates the age of this figure Buti Teke hermaphrodite (no apparent sex). Similarly this body was originally wrapped in a tissue that held the load in the abdominal cavity. The age of the piece explains the current absence of this fabric. The face and neck are coated with a sacrificial crusty patina.
Andeblis between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon, the Teké were organized into chiefdoms whose leader was often chosen from among the blacksmiths. The head of the family, mfumu , had the right to life or death over his family whose importance ...

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Mask Dan Zapkei or Gunye ge
African art > African mask > Masque Dan

Ex-collection Belgian African art.
This African mask from Côte d'Ivoire, distinguished by its metal-circled eyes, has a grainy patina resulting from ritual libations. At the contours of the mask, the remains of a hood of canvas, whose knotted ends at the top are adjacent to long nails, consolidated by the same sacrificial coating. A thick raffia beard embellishes the jaws. The parallel grooves engraved around the face recall the dan's traditional scars. This so-called 'race' mask (sharp face, hollowed round eyes, tanned mouth was held against the face using cotton strips attached to the perforations of the contours and knotted behind the head. Tradition has it that its wearer is pursued by an unmasked runner; if he is caught, he must pass the mask to the winner, who in turn will be ...

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Statue Paré / Zigua Tanzania
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African art > African Statues > Paré Fetish

This male figure, represented in an unusual position, a leg widely slanting, adopts a voluminous head in which the pupils were set with pearls. The large circular ears also form one of the specificfeatures of East African statuary. Arms with joined fingers are brought back in front of the bust, and an assemblage of animal horns and dried fruit features the genitals. The feet, very frustrated, have the appearance of stumps. The sculpture is swaddled in a red fabric that a brilliant ritual-encrusted, locally cracked, stiffened slitm. The resulting patina, dark brown, is speckled with residual light ochre pigments. The top of the head has been hollowed out to place ingredients that are now absent for protective or therapeutic purposes. This statue comes from the northeastern region of ...

Warrior Mask - Guéré - Bété
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African art > African mask > Beté Mask

The African art of the Wé peoples and its African warrior
The elements that make up the face of this abstract face are dramatically duplicated. The result is a belligerent face, made up of horns and disparate tubular eyes. Metallic shards animate the dark patina. The forehead evokes a warrior helmet, typical of these masks supposed to cause dread. An animal skin sheaths it, topped with dried fruit and horns. The raffia and hair beard conceals bells and bells.

Thusin the west of Côte d'Ivoire, the Bété use masks whose style has been influenced by the mask society gla we ed and Guéré, a set referred to as Wé or 'men who forgive easily', itself belonging to the cultural group Krou, these traditions having been passed on to them and taught to them by the Nyabwa. Of warlike ...

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Nok head in terracotta
African art > African Terracotta > Nok Head

This Nok head is accompanied by its thermoluminescence test carried out in 1996 by the German laboratory Ralf Kotalla (TL 961155), which confirms a seniority of more or less 2,200 years. Estimated in the auction room between 2,000 and 2,500 euros, this African terracotta comes from the Guy Mercier collection, consultant for the Solvay group, and passed down from generation to generation. At the beginning of the 20th century, Guy Mercier began to collect a vast collection of African tribal art. While radiating in West and Central Africa as part of his work, and collecting in-situ works, the majority of his collection nevertheless comes from \

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Yoruba Altar
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African art > African Reliquary > Yoruba Altar

Yoruba statuary in African art

Oyo and Ijebu was born following the disappearance of the civilization Ifé and are still the basis of the political structure of the Yoruba. The Oyo created two cults centered on the ever-active Egungun and Sango societies, which worship their gods through ceremonies using masks, statuettes, sceptres and divination supports.

When the masks are not worn, they are placed on altars where they receive libations and prayers.
On a hollow base adorned with the faces of Orunmila god of divination but also perhaps of the divine messenger Esu, a group of characters is carved in round-bump. A pregnant woman sits in a chair in front of a second female figure standing. Four other miniature female figures, wearing ridges, kneel around them. ...

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Mask Mbuya Pende Fumu
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African art > African mask > Pendé Mask

This African introductory mask, Mbuya , emanates from the Western Pende whose influence Yaka is notable for the slightly upturned nose, the line of eyebrows emanating from the neighboring Chokwe. Easily identifiable by its hairstyle consisting of four horns whose movements accompanied the jerky dance, this mask expresses the masculine and feminine qualities of the chef. This mask is stylistically very close to the Pumbu , but with rounder horns and slightly softer features. (Pende, Strother) The mask Pumbu embodies, to protect himself from the vengeance of his prey, the spirit of a big game hunter, and the executor who willingly shed human blood, Ngunza. For the Central Pende its Pundu mask is besides very different in its formal appearance. This African mask Pendé Fumu sports a chin ...

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Pendé Kipoko Mask
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African art > African mask > Pende Mask

Ex-Belgian African art collection
Western Pende live on the banks of the Kwilu, while the Oriental have settled on the banks of the Kasai river downstream of Tshikapa. The influences of the neighbouring ethnic groups, Mbla, Suku, Wongo, Leele, Kuba and Salempasu, were imprinted on their large tribal art sculpture. Within this diversity the masks Mbuya , realistic, produced every ten years, take on a festive function, and embody different characters, including the chef, the soothsayer and his wife, the prostitute, the possessed, etc. The masks of initiation and those of power, the minganji, represent the ancestors and occur successively during the same ceremonies, agricultural festivals, initiation rituals and circumcision mukanda, induction of the chief. The Kipoko mask (also known ...

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Couple of large leopards Benin Bini Edo
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African art > African bronze > Couple of large leopards Benin Bini Edo

Bronze in the African art of the Benin Kingdom
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. War scenes glorifying them 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. The killing of the king of animals associated with the legends, the leopard, was the privilege of the chief, the Oba. The feline could then serve as an offering for the worship of the chief's head. Sometimes tamed by various royal guilds, he ...

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Medical jar
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African art > African Jar > medical jar

French African art collection.
Mixed with Nalu and Landuman , Baga live along the coast of Guinea-Bissau in flooded swamp regions six months a year. They believe in a creative god called Nagu, Naku , which they do not represent, and which is accompanied by a male spirit whose name is Somtup , represented by a large cage covered with raffia whose top is a bird's head. Apart from the famous Nimba mask, they created a powerful mask, a hybrid of snake, gazelle, chameleon and crocodile, in order to communicate with the spirits of the forest, and which they wore obliquely on the head. A red, orange and yellow polychromy, contrasting with the dark patina, remains noticeable. Kaolin brush residue. Surface matte, dry and flaked. This piece comes from an African art collector who wishes to ...

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Senoufo Setien hema mask
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African art > African mask > Senoufo Mask

From a spherical mask, dug with holes for the eyes, stands a stylized effigy of a mythical bird frequently identified as the calao, or Setien , one of the five animals of the Senoufo cosmogony. Its long, tapered beak, interpreted as the figuration of the male sexual organ" that perpetuates the life of the community, elegantly returns to touch the bulging chest symbolizing motherhood. The paws hug the dome of the mask.
Desication cracks restored in situ using metal staples, an old matte, velvety dark patina, locally abraded on a light wood.
The Senoufo , a name given to them by French settlers, are mostly composed 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. ...

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Yoruba dignitary seat
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African art > African Chair > Throne Yoruba

Prestige of furniture, seats and stools in African art
This sitting featuring cariatid figures and bird sculptures associated with divination ifa has a recurring iconography in the statuary of the Yoruba people. Indeed, centered on the veneration of its gods, or orisà , the Yoruba religion relies on artistic sculptures with coded messages (aroko), often read by the only initiates of secret societies. Six caryatids support the seat of their raised arms, four support the armrests, while human figures are depicted leaning on the rear studs of the seat. A polychromy distinguishes this piece of tribal art, the red pigments symbolizing blood and fire, here associated with green. Glossy dark brown patina, kaolin pigments, indigenous restorations (metal staples on the tray and arms)

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Sakalava Statue
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African art > African Statues > Sakalava Figure

African art Malagasy.
The tropical island of Madagascar is located off the coast of Mozambique. Its first inhabitants are said to have made up Polynesians who have taken refuge on the eastern coast of Africa, but have been repelled by Arab-Muslim traders. Several kingdoms developed there as early as 1500, including Sakalava on the west coast of the island. The most famous plastic achievements of the Malagasy are a statuary linked to funeral rites. While the Mahafaly statues were an integral part of pillars aloalo, the fragments of panels above the heads testifying, the figures of ancestors Sakalava, in a round-bump, frequently represent the deceased and his companion of the opposite sex. The north-east of the tomb, sacred position associated with the aurora, the resurrection, the ...

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Komo Bambara Warakun Mask
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African art > African mask > Bambara Mask

Ex-Belgian African art collection.
Stripped of any ornamentation, this African Komo Bambara mask, with toothed jaws, offers a cracked matte patina that softens the geometry of the piece. The crust on the object was once from a sacred lake, reinforcing the magical character of the mask. The hair tops, inserted by tufts on the mask, were mostly from the porcupine. Residual blue pigment inlays. From the guy Mercier collection of tribal art, consultant for the Solvay group, which undertook it at the beginning of the 20th century. While radiating in West and Central Africa as part of his work, and collecting in-situ works, the majority of his collection nevertheless comes from \

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Baule monkey helmet mask
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African art > African mask > Baoulé Mask

This sacred African mask, of conjuring, comes from one of the many Baoulé cults that would include seven masks.  It is the powerful embodiment of a force being U-002amwin".  This mask could be related to harvest ceremonies.  Animal masks always accompanied the portrait masks.
This mask landed at the top of the head, raffia fibres attached to the perforations of the contours concealing the dancer's face. Very old mask, eroded base.
According to the mythology Baoulé , a royal ancestor had to sacrifice his son to cross a river. This event is the origin of the name of the Baoulé , Bauli ,"The son died". They make up the majority of Côte d'Ivoire's population. Artists of African art have produced very elegant and diverse works, including many masks.  There are also so-called ...

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Deangle Dan Dance Mask
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African art > African mask > Masque Dan

Ex-Belgian African art collection. These African masks of a very pure aesthetic whose concave face projects the features, are always borrowed from a great serenity. This is one of the characteristics of Dan masks.Arched palpebral slits allow the dancer's vision. Flesh yen-green diamond lips protrude. A black patina, particularly satin, has areas thinned by use, honey color. Rhythms punctuated by regular perforations to fix the raffia adornment in front concealed the wearer. The so-called Mask, called Deanglé, defines an ideal of beauty and benevolence because it is carved in honour of the village's young girls or renowned men.

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Large Royal Altar Head Benin
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African art > African bronze > Large Royal Altar Head Benin

Ex private English collection of African art.

Altar heads are famous pieces in benign art. Like the other bronzes, they were cast using the lost wax technique. These pieces are very loaded with details and patterns. This royal head with realistic features has facial scarifications and many finely detailed ornaments. A recurring feature, the warhead headdress is imposing and beautifully decorated.

The art of Benin is described as a court art because it is closely associated with the king, known as oba. The tradition of Ifè's bronze classroom objects dates back to the 14th century.

The many bronze heads and statues created by the artists of Benin were reserved for the exclusive use of the inhabitants of the royal palace and, more often than not, placed on ...

Figure Baoulé anthropo-zoomorphe
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African art > African Statues > Baoule figure

Belgian African art collection.
This baoulé sculpture, exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts in Pau in 1961, consisting of an effigy of asye usu associated with an animal forms an exceptional pair. The heads are turned in opposite directions, the arms are joined in order to welcome together the spirit of the bush, asye usu, or Mbra, an amuin (god) given to the Baoulé by the creator. These figures related to the worship of divination were carved following the dreams of the soothsayer. The surface of this baoulé statue gradually developed a chipped crustal film resulting from successive ritual libations. Acquired by Guy Mercier, consultant for the Solvay Group, who began to collect a vast collection of early art at the beginning of the 20th century. While radiating in West and Central ...

Bwami Lega Headdress
African art > Headdress Hat > Chapeau League

This type of head adornment is worn by the members of the highest ranks of the secret bwami society governing the lega social structure, open to circumcised adults and their wives and who instruct their adherents in terms of moral perfection
These objects are part of the masengo , meaning that they are sacred and can therefore only be worn by the initiates. The owner cannot part with it during his life. Bwami has varying degrees, with yananio and kindi being the highest.

The materials used vary, they can be clothing buttons, cauris, pearls or cocoa beans. On a carefully braided cap of natural fibers, this head cover is completely covered with rows of pangolin scales, animal totem of Lega that suels of initiates can consume. He would have taught them the art of making the ...

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Statuette Beembe, Bembe, en ivoire
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African art > African Statues > Bembé Fetish

Rare ivory sculpture depicting a male ancestor Bembé,Béembé, this figurine has, engraved on the bust, body marks associated with scarifications, witnesses of the social and initiation evolution of the individual, specific to cultures Kongo. Almond eyes were originally to be encrusted with mother-of-pearl, bone or earthenware. The attitude, seated in a suit, is the attitude adopted by dignitaries during interviews. The character holds a fly-hunt, badge of authority. The attention to detail and symmetry characterizes this refined work. Golden surface by oil anointings mixed with red ochre pigments.Ex. Mercier collection. A piece that predates the ivory regulations.
Established on the plateaus of the People's Republic of Congo ex. Brazzaville, the small group of Babembé (pl.) was ...

Vase Cuba
African art > Usual african items > Kuba cup

Plenty of decorative sculptures in African art kuba
Supported by a cove and two female cariatid figures established on a circular base, the cut is engraved with geometric decorative motifs borrowed from the scarifications, also taken up on the textiles in raphia shoowa. The frieze imbolo , composed of intertwined lines, garnishes the edges of the cup. Various forms of cups were carved, the adornment of which sought to glorify the qualities of their owners. Matte patina abraded.
The highly organized and hierarchical Kuba society placed a king or nyim in its centre 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. ...

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