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Kuba Helmet Mask Cowrie Shells African Art

Regular Price: $250.00

Special Price: $175.00

Product #: 109657
US Shipping: $29.98
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Title Kuba Helmet Mask Cowrie Shells African Art
Type of Object Helmet or Headdress
Country of Origin Democractic Republic of Congo
People Kuba
Materials wood, cowrie shells,raffia cloth and grass. paint and pigments
Approximate Age 20th century
Dimensions Height: 13.5 Inches
Width: 9 Inches
Depth: 9.5 Inches
10 inch beard
Overall Condition Fair to Good. Most of our pieces have spent decades on at least two continents, and have been treasured by several owners.   Small splits, scrapes and cracks are a normal part of their patina attesting to their age and extensive use.  We examine each piece carefully when we receive it and report any damage we find in our listings.  Please look carefully at the pictures which may also reveal condition and damage.
Damage/Repair dirt, general wear, surface scrapes, and chips; see pictures for details.


Provenance: From the collection of Howard Gelb, St. Paul, MN collector of African Art, who was also a businessman, lawyer, and philanthropist. Mr. Gelb died in 2015, at the age of 96.


Additional Information: An elaborately decorated Kuba helmet.  The fabric of the mask is woven raffia fibers, and the rim of the mask is embroidered with cowrie shells.  The face displays a complex geometric pattern in black, white, red, and orange.  The inclusion of the cowrie shells follows the BaKuba favored style of decorative art.


Kuba hats are worn by the Kings, his dignitaries, and by titled women. These headdresses are insignia of status and social rank.They also intend to demonstrate royal health and power. Within Kuba culture, cowrie shells and beads are associated to the wealth and power of the kingship.


See  similar example in  Patricia Darish and David Binkley, " Headdresses and titleholding Among the Kuba",  in CROWNING ACHIEVEMENTS (Arnoldi & Kreamer eds.), fig. 9.16, p. 168


For more information see Joseph, Cornet, Art Royal Kuba, 1982, Edizioni Sipiel: Milano; Mack's EMIL TORDAY AND THE ART OF THE CONGO 1900-1909.; Patricia Darish and David Binkley, " Headdresses and titleholding Among the Kuba", pp. 159-169 in CROWNING ACHIEVEMENTS (Arnoldi & Kreamer eds.). For a superb article on Kuba royal dress, with a number of examples, see Joseph Cornet's article in the CD ART AND LIFE IN AFRICA . (I have copies for sale.)