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African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Chokwe mask
Among the many African masks akishi (sing: mukishi, indicating power) of African Chokwe tribal art, the masks of a reduced format are worn on costumes or initiation headdress.
Matte brown patina, lacks. Height on base: 45 cm.
The masks of the Chokwe, Luda, Luvale/Lwena, Luchazi and Mbunda clans are called "makishi" (sing. likishi) in Zambia. This name comes from "kishi", a Bantu concept that evokes the manifestation of a spirit or an ancestor. These agents of social, moral and spiritual order, forming a panel of different characters, sociable, aggressive, or unpredictable, in fact embody the spirit of an illustrious ancestor (male or female), their appearance manifesting itself mainly during rites mukanda, including circumcision, during which their true identity must remain ...
African art > The fetish, this emblematic object of primitive art > Mfinu fetish
The neighboring Teke and Mfinu have very diverse African sculptures, loaded with fetish materials, in order to promote hunting, cure diseases, facilitate childbirth, etc... Sculpted heads, in connection with the ancestors butti, are represented endowed with a prominent abdomen encrusted with a cowrie shell. Cords and woven fibers enclose everything.
Dark satin patina.
Height on base: 50 cm.
Established between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon, the Téké were organized into chiefdoms whose chief was often chosen from among the blacksmiths. The head of the family, mfumu, had the right of life or death over his family whose importance determined his prestige. The chief of the clan, ngantsié , kept the great protective fetish tar mantsié which supervised all the ...
African art > Head rest > Yaka neck support
This type of neckrest, named musaw or m-baambu, is part of the objects of African tribal art integrating the ritual charms of the leaders of matrilineage and heads of families. The latter, who kept them in their bedrooms, sought to preserve their sophisticated tribal headdresses.
Some of these sculptures had magical charges inserted in discreet cavities.
Black satin patina.
Hierarchical and authoritarian, made up of formidable warriors, Yaka society was governed by lineage leaders with the right to life and death over their subjects. Hunting and the prestige that results from it are nowadays an opportunity for the Yaka to invoke the ancestors and to resort to rituals using charms linked to the "khosi" institution. The youth initiation society is the n-khanda, which ...
African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Statuette Songye
Ex-collection Swiss African art.
Statuette-fetish Nkisi , nkishi (pl. mankishi) anthropomorphic, her arms are positioned around a protruding abdomen. The particularity of these objects most often resides in the angular treatment of the form, the imposing triangular face whose chin often blends into a beard, the cracks of the mouth spread in grin, and the attitude deported to the front of the bulging belly. Brown, sained skate. These home protection fetishes are among the most prized in Africa. Nkisi plays the role of mediator between gods and humans. Large copies 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. ...
African art > Coins in bronze, black iron and other materials > Currency Bakwele
The Mandjong were used for marriage dowries in the northeastern regions of Gabon and northern Congo Brazaville. Elements of these currencies of a particularly elegant design, such as the extremities for example, could also be taken as a means of payment.
Roberto Ballarini, in his work "The Perfect Form", notes moreover that a marriage could require in 1935 up to 100 Madjong.
Irregular rust brown patina.
Tribe of the Kota group, the Kwélé, Bakwélé, live in the forest on the northern border of the Republic of Congo. They live from hunting, agriculture and metallurgy. Practicing the cult called Bwété borrowed from the Ngwyes, which was accompanied by obligatory initiation rites, they used at the end of the ceremonies the ekuk masks linked to the spirits of the forest.
African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Guro mask
The African animal masks of the Dié group in African art Gouro.
Bright colors for this zoomorphic mask glorifying a pachyderm. Decorative motifs painted in contrasting tones accentuate the details of this sculpted composition.
Slightly abraded patina, small accidents.
Organized into lineages, the Gouros are the western neighbors of the Baoulé. Their respective sculptures, by their morphology, bear witness to their close relationship. Priest and diviner share the predominant ritual functions among the Guro. Secret associations worship the geniuses of nature, through the masks in which the spirits are supposed to reside. Their protective spirits called zuzu were worshiped through statues placed on altars. The gu, gye and dye masks, in the hands of notables, are only exhibited ...
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: ...
African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Songye mask
This imprecative African mask, streaked with a network of bleached grooves, would be feminine. To the different areas of this type of mask (including the beard, the costume and the body of the wearer) is attached a particular symbolism: the mouth, for example, would embody the beak of a bird and the fire of the sorcerer. This specimen stands out thanks to its powerful projecting features.
Height on base: 52 cm.
Matt patina, erosions and cracks.
Three types of African art mask "Kifwebe" (or mask in Songye) are listed: the male (kilume) generally with a high crest, the female (kikashi) would present a more modest or even absent crest, and finally the largest embodying power (kia ndoshi).
The Songye sculptor had a high status within the bwadi society and also produced various ...
African art > Maternity, statues, bronze, wood > Kongo figure
Among the regalia of the chiefs, this type of African Kongo maternity embodies, according to the scarifications of the bust, the ancestor of the clan, a mediating figure. The child would embody the matrilineal transmission of power.
The Yombe adorned their textiles, mats and loincloths, with lozenges related to proverbs glorifying work and social unity. The mouth reveals filed teeth, the gaze indicates the grandmother's ability to discern occult things. The use of this type of sculpture remains unknown. They frequently formed the carved pattern at the top of chiefs' canes. Satin patina. Cracks, erosions.
A clan of the Kongo group, the Yombe are established on the west coast of Africa, in the south-west of the Republic of Congo and in Angola. Their statuary includes ...
African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Punu mask
This African mask with a harmonious face constitutes one of the stylistic variants of the white masks of Gabon, itengi, (pl. bitengi). An enveloping headdress contours the face.
The checkerboard scarifications, mabinda, are abraded.
Matt patina, minimal erosions, desiccation cracks.
In tribal art, this tribal mask from Gabon was associated with the various secret societies of Gabon, including the Bwiti, Bwete, and the Mwiri ("to lead"), the latter spanning several levels of initiation, to which all Punu men belonged, and whose emblem was the caiman. The Punu did not involve any mask in Bwiti rituals, unlike the Tsogo. These powerful secret societies, which also had a judicial function, featured several dances, including the leopard dance, the Esomba, the Mukuyi, and the i> ...
African art > Reliquaries, statues > Kota reliquary
African sculpture ritual, plated with metal sheets according to the kota tradition, forming a stylized image of the ancestor, a coat of arms also for the clan, and which is generally distinguished by the shape of the headdress, variable depending on the regions. This copy presents a face haloed with metallic spheres as a reminder of the globular pupils. The asymmetry of the object also gives it a somewhat naive character.
The Kota inhabit the eastern part of Gabon, which is rich in iron ore, and some in the Republic of Congo. The blacksmith, in addition to wood carving, made tools for agricultural work as well as ritual weapons. The sculptures playing the role of "medium" between the living and the dead who watched over the descendants, were associated with the rites at the ...
African art > Head rest > Kuba neck support
Within the figurative sculpture of the Kuba, the prestigious objects held by members of the Kuba royal family and the peripheral groups, Bushoong and Dengese, are richly decorated with engraved motifs. The same geometric patterns adorn objects for individual use, such as this kuba-type headrest. Light patina.
Desication cracks, small accidents.
The Kuba kingdom was founded in the 16th century by the main tribe Bushoong which is still ruled today by a king, and whose capital was Nshyeeng or Mushenge.
More than twenty types of tribal masks are used among the Kuba or "lightning people", with meanings and functions that vary from group to group. Ritual ceremonies were an opportunity to exhibit decorative arts and masks, in order to honor the spirit of the deceased or to honor ...
African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Pende mask
The "disease" masks Pende Mbangu illustrate, by their deformed features, the patient in epileptic crisis or the result of facial paralysis caused by witchcraft rituals.
The dancer who wears this comedy mask wears a feather hat gifuatu of guinea fowl, coucal or turaco, or the lumbandu, a crown of leaves. It is also often fitted with a hump on its back, exaggerating the character's handicapped appearance.
The western Pende live on the banks of the Kwilu, while the eastern people have settled on the banks of the Kasai downstream from Tshikapa. The influences of neighboring ethnic groups, Mbla, Suku, Wongo, Leele, Kuba and Salempasu imprinted on their large tribal art sculpture. Within this diversity, the Mbuya masks, realistic, produced every ten years, take on a festive function, ...
African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Lega mask
This African Lega mask, offering the classic characteristics, indicated the stage that its holder had reached within the Bwami, a learning society composed of different grades, and which joined the wives whose spouse had reached the third level, that of ngandu.
Height on base: 44 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. Also called Warega, these individuals live in self-contained villages surrounded by palisades, usually on top of hills. The role of chief, kindi, is held by the oldest man in the clan, who must be the ...
African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Tschokwe mask
The Tschokwe, in African art, have a male association, the mukanda, which uses about thirty masks for various social purposes and related to ancestors including this type of animal mask, the ngulu. It was also accompanied by colored cotton fabrics and various small objects. The obscene behavior that accompanied his exhibition contrasted with the other masked dances.
Brown satin patina.
The Tschokwe, of Bantu culture, had settled in eastern Angola, but also in Congo and Zambia. Following various alliances, they mingled with the Lunda who taught them hunting.
Sources: "Chokwe", 5continents, B.Wastiau and "African Art", Mazenod.