Fang Ngontang Helmet Mask

These masks were used to locate sorcerers, (those who misuse spiritual powers) but were also
performed at feasts, funerals, celebrations of birth, and on the occasion of an important communal decision.

Fang Ngil mask

Tribe: Fang

Origin: Gabon

Approx Age: 20th Century

Materials: wood

Dimensions cm: 26 x 26 x 26

Ref. Number: 1855

£495.00

Description:
A three-faced Fang Ngontang helmet mask from Gabon, open-topped where originally plumes of feathers would have been displayed, in the centre of the mask is a bamboo and raffia type construction for it to sit on the head of the wearer. Repainted many times over its lifetime with black paint and white kaolin, very aged wood.

Provenance: Ex-Rafael Prieto Prieto, Spain

History

NGONTANG mask (all-seeing mask)
Known as Ngontang (or Ngontanga), this mask variety appeared among the Fang people of southern Cameroon and Gabon shortly before 1920. It represents a spirit of the dead visiting as a young white woman from the world beyond, but its meaning is not fully established, but this name could refer to a visitor from beyond, where all spirits are white.

The mask was used to locate sorcerers–those who misuse spiritual powers–but also performs at feasts, funerals, celebrations of birth, and on the occasion of an important communal decision.
Fang interpretation of the four faces on this mask varies from four spirits to four stages of life to four relatives. It should be noted that examples exist with one, two, or three faces. Moreover, many examples bear mask-like faces that are all of the same size.


Sources: A History of Art in Africa / Africa – The Art of a Continent / The Tribal Art of Africa

Image from the book    
African Masks from the Barbier-Mueller Collection

Kasangu mask

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