Mask Mbuya People Pendé
Size: 22 cm Weight: 150g
Kaolin and paint
It is a female mask worn like all masks by a man. However, during ceremonies of circumcision, initiation (Mukanda), enthronement of a chief or even for sowing, he is not alone; a mask of mbuya representing characters like the madman, the lover, executioner, epileptic, coquette of the village ..., and play their role of social regulator. This mask comes from the collection of a "primitivist" painter from the Montpellier region. On his first visit to my home, he recognized this mask as having reported it himself on a trip to Zaire in 1967.
Size: 51 cm without pedestal Weight: 0,6 Kg
Mid 20th Century
Crusty pigments in places of light beige color, traces of a red pigment.
Left foot missing, right foot integral and traces of xylophages.
Very pretty ashanti statuette; Of an original style by these rounded forms, the prominent belly is probably that of a pregnant woman. These arms with round shoulders and large hands inspire a vision of a woman endowed with strength; A character reinforced by these short and solid legs. The woman is here and as often idealized, she is fruitful and it is a precious help for the work of everyday life.
The scars on the face, stomach, and back are very pronounced compared to what I know of the fertility statues of this origin. It has the ringed neck of ashantis and akans (same group) but not the arched eyebrows of these. I think that my perplexity can be appeased by thinking that the sculptor has respected the traditional codes to result in an object and projected his personal and original vision of woman and function. The exaggeration of the motifs on the body and the face has perhaps been felt as a necessary need to strengthen the power represented by the object I was assured to be that of divination.
Two functions-fertility and divination -The first obvious because one can not ignore this rounded belly and the second, divination, more subtle but suggested by the solar disk (as below) erected on the head of the character and that one Can see on certain plateaus divinatory ashantis.
Collected pre 1960
Senufo Men have their own secret societies called the 'poro' headed by the village elder, in which the sacred knowledge of manhood is taught to young initiates. The boys are taken in to the wilderness to learn the clan wisdom, this signifies the end of their childhood. Upon their return, they are welcomed back into the village as men with an elaborate ceremony. The most beautiful element of this ceremony is the celebration of the interdependent relationship between man woman. Young men newly initiated into Poro society wear masks similar to this Kpeliye'e mask. To garner the appreciation of women, these young men dressed in full, colourful costumes, to complement the mask. Copper is not the most common material to make a mask. It is expensive and requires the skills of a highly specialised craftsman. Copper is symbolically related to fertility and vitality
People CHAMBA Country:
NIGERIA Size: 37 cm
Hardwood Weight: about 400 gr
Traces of reddish pigments, crusty patina.
Mid 20th century
The Chambas are spread in Nigeria and in the Cameroonian Grasssland. Established in Nigeria on the south bank of the Benue, Chambas or Tchambas (about 150,000) they come from the mountains that mark the border of Cameroon and Nigeria. It was in the seventeenth century that they settled there and formed small centralized states, some of which had a fortified center.
The round head surmounted by a shape depicting a stylized canary, a headdress the elongated and cylindrical trunk, the arms off the body and the hands placed under the navel. This statuette offers a highly stylized formal treatment of female representation. The face bears the traditional scarifications; the small eyes are round, sunken under straight eyebrows; the lips seem to launch forward to form a word. The treatment of this statuette has been rigorous and does not lack sophistication in the use of geometry. This is another example of the sculptor's freedom in exercising his talent, while respecting formal codes related to the functional needs of the object.
Male statue called Thilkõtina, People: LOBI.
Country: Burkina Faso
Height: 91 cm Weight: 16 kg
In very dense wood, circa 1930
It is a statue called “Thilkõtina”. She was associated with a representation of a woman who was unfortunately separated from the man.
This work is without formal formal exuberance; The purity of expression and the feeling of a reassuring balance are perfectly expressed to receive with dignity the power of the tutelary ancestor of the group attached to the home and to ensure its benevolent protection.
Twins IBEJI YORUBA
Light wood, patina of use and traces of red pigment , pearls.
Height: 25 cm Weight: 200 g
Mid 20th Century
In the past, the birth of twins was considered an inexplicable event and was accompanied by various superstitions. This phenomenon was explained by a double fatherhood (two different fathers), which proved at the same time the infidelity of the mother. This belief led to the murder of the mother and the children. Indeed, the Yorubas believed that no human being could beget two human beings at a time. So, they regarded the twins as mysterious, supernatural beings who brought misfortune to their families. As a result, at birth, both twins were killed and their mother was rejected from the village. It is not known exactly when the Yorubas changed their attitude towards twins. Legend has it that about a hundred years ago there was great sadness in the villages and in the souls of its inhabitants. The oracle of IFA was then consulted and ordered to stop the killing of the twins and to honor them. It's a version, but I also heard that this change would have happened about 200 years ago. IBEJI does not represent a child, as one might expect, but an adult, with the face and naked body of an adult. It is the sculptor who decides on the artistic form he will give to the statuette. The only essential element is the sex of the twin (s) to be carved. The height varies between twenty and thirty centimeters. Like all the Ibéji, his arms hang down, the legs are short and his head is big compared to the body, with an elaborate hairstyle. It has obviously been treated because the surface of the wood is polished and shows traces of natural pigments, red and blue. Sources: according to the Catalog of Ibeji of Fausto Polo and Jean David More generally of round form, the base is here more square.
MOBA statue called "chitcheri"
Size: 1.30 m without its base Weight: 10 Kg
Mid 20th Century
It represents an ancestor symbolized by a human body with an abstract face. It is initially planted in the ground. The legs, in contact with the ground, are sometimes eroded or missing. Its main function is to protect the community. But his role does not stop there. This type of statue has healing properties and brings prosperity. There are three kinds of Tchitcheri statues. They are different in size. The smallest is called yendu. The medium one is called bawoong, and the biggest one is skawa. One of the most elegant mobas statues is my opinion. I have seen more stocky, heavy forms. Until this one, I did not think to keep one. Its large size associates it with chichari skawa and evokes the memory of the founder of a clan. Badly soclée on the spot, the feet have suffered but that does not disturb its graceful sobriety. These family and concession protection objects are sometimes used for divination.
BWA fetish protection box masks.
Country: Burkina Faso
Collected in a village in the Boromo region. An undeniably old and powerful piece, made obsolete by a change in beliefs. This remarkable piece is the guardian of the hut used to keep the ceremonial masks used in the village. This type of room is too remarkable in the eyes of some, like the masks of which she is the guardian.
Made out of hard wood, it has sacrificial and temporal crusts, the wood shows erosion and in the male superior figure the sex is missing. This one is placed on the heads of two other guards back to back; one is a man and the other a woman in the same upright position, each one looking towards a different horizon. They lie in wait; their function is to watch over the masks and deter any potential thieves, jealous of the power of the masks, that lie in waiting to participate again, in the social organization of the community.
Ancient BAULE mask
People BAULE Republic of Ivory Coast
Size 27 cm. Weight: 3.3 kg
general patina glossy / granular on the face
local repair of wood cracks using "staples".
Guided by Queen Abla Pokou, a group of Akans migrated from present Ghana to settle between the rivers Bandama and Comoué. The name Baoulé comes "ba or li" ("the child is dead"), a cry launched after the sacrifice of the only son of the queen to pass the waves of the river by a bridge formed of hippopotamuses. In another version, it is the trees on both banks that lie down to form a passage. Others say that it depicts a monkey who would have delivered the means to cross the river to the queen. A protector whose power is fear, Gbekré (or Mbotumbo) is an important deity since it is supposed to judge souls in the afterlife. Often a model for Baoule statuary, the monkey is rarely represented in the form of a mask.
Friction Oracle KUBA
Patina of pronounced use and wear.
Height: 17 cm x 5 cm
Weight: about 90g
Old collection of the painter Claude Féraud in Montpellier. Before 1950.
With the help of this ITOMBWA, the soothsayer interrogated the spirits by rubbing a piece of wood on the back of the animal. Coated by the sap of plants and oil which, under the heat produced by the friction, makes it adhere to the itombwa and immobilize the rubbing piece. Depending on the question, the rubbing stops abruptly and the soothsayer can thus interpret the problem that overwhelms the applicant.
Small in size, this friction oracle is decorated with a dog's head as inspired by hunting fetishes.
Its dimensions make it an object easily transportable by the soothsayer.
Ke Guru Bracelets, DJERMA
(Left) Weight 3.6 kg (Right) 2.5 kg
Height: (Left) 18 cm (Right) 14 cm
Age: circa 1900
The Djermas came from Macina and Egypt. Their homeland is Zarmaganda. They adopted the language of Songhai, then descended further south in search of fertile land. These braceletes were used to pay for cattle or a dowry, this type of bracelet was sometimes worn on a daily basis by married women or used for ceremonial purposes.
The geometric designs that adorn these jewels/coins, are reminiscent of the Tuareg motif.
£1250 / £950
Height: 30 cm
Wood with brown patina from use, trace or resin.
Provenance: collection of Claude Féraud painter of Montpellier.
A Fly-whisk representing a person kneeling as a sign of humility or respectful submission.
Fertility doll - Mwana Hiti.
Size: 13.5 cm
Weathered hardwood, honey and brown, by use.
Before 1960 Zaramo-Kwere
Formerly, this doll wore a headdress in human hair. Educational toy and propitiatory object with virtues promoting fertility.
Historically, with the exception of some monumental Egyptian sculpture, most African sculpture was created in wood and other organic materials that have not survived from earlier than a few centuries ago; older pottery figures are found from a number of areas.
Masks are important elements in the art of many peoples, along with human figures, often highly stylised. There is a vast variety of styles, often varying within the same context of origin depending on the use of the object, but wide regional trends are apparent; sculpture is most common among "groups of settled cultivators in the areas drained by the Niger and Congo rivers" in West Africa. Direct images of deities are relatively infrequent, but masks in particular are or were often made for religious ceremonies; today many are made for tourists as "airport art". African masks were an influence on European Modernist art, which was inspired by their lack of concern for naturalistic depiction.
The Nubian Kingdom of Kush in modern Sudan was in close and often hostile contact with Egypt, and produced monumental sculpture mostly derivative of styles to the north. In West Africa, the earliest known sculptures are from the Nok culture which thrived between 500 BC and 500 AD in modern Nigeria, with clay figures typically with elongated bodies and angular shapes. Later West African cultures developed bronze casting for reliefs to decorate palaces like the famous Benin Bronzes, and very fine naturalistic royal heads from around the Yoruba town of Ife in terracotta and metal from the 12th–14th centuries. Akan goldweights are a form of small metal sculptures produced over the period 1400–1900, some apparently representing proverbs and so with a narrative element rare in African sculpture, and royal regalia included impressive gold sculptured elements.
Many West African figures are used in religious rituals and are often coated with materials placed on them for ceremonial offerings. The Mande-speaking peoples of the same region make pieces of wood with broad, flat surfaces and arms and legs are shaped like cylinders. In Central Africa, however, the main distinguishing characteristics include heart-shaped faces that are curved inward and display patterns of circles and dots.
Populations in the African Great Lakes are not known for their sculpture. However, one style from the region is pole sculptures, carved in human shapes and decorated with geometric forms, while the tops are carved with figures of animals, people, and various objects. These poles are, then, placed next to graves and are associated with death and the ancestral world. The culture known from Great Zimbabwe left more impressive buildings than sculpture but the eight soapstone Zimbabwe Birds appear to have had a special significance and were mounted on monoliths. Modern Zimbabwean sculptors in soapstone have achieved considerable international success. Southern Africa’s oldest known clay figures date from 400 to 600 AD and have cylindrical heads with a mixture of human and animal features.