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Ngbaka Shield with Faces Congo African Art

Product #: 113824
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Title Ngbaka Shield with Faces Congo African Art
Type of Object Carving, Figure, Statue, Sculpture
Country of Origin Democratic Republic of the Congo
People Ngbaka
Materials Wood, pigment
Approximate Age 20th Century
Dimensions Height: 15.5 Inches
Width: 9 Inches
Depth: 5 Inches
Overall Condition Poor. 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 Chips and large crack.

Additional Information: A wonderful wooden shield decorated with faces.  The shield has no handles and may have been used as a mask or headpiece in ceremony, around the shield is a rim of drilled holes with braided reeds tied around.  Wooden shields like this were common across the Congo region during the colonial period and even a few years before the independence of the Congo. These years were characterized by war between different ethnic groups and by the movements of resistance against the colonialism. 

The Ngbandi and Ngbaka live in an area bounded by the Ubangi and Lualaba River systems with the Ngombe scattered along the Lualaba River The Ngbaka moved into the area inhabited by the Ngbandi.They are mainly subsistence farmers, raising manioc and maize, and also chickens and goats for eggs and milk. The traditional game animals in their area have essentially been hunted to extinction, so they have to depend on fishing for protein. The Ngbaka believe in a supreme deity, Gbonboso, whose message was brought to Earth by two spirit messengers--Seto and Nabo--who are recognized as the original ancestors of the Ngbaka people. Their art, like much of the creative output from the Ubangi region, is poorly understood even today.Their main artistic output are the spirit/ancestor statues which are thought to represent Seto and Nabo. Both groups share sculpture forms and the details of scarification that often leads to some confusion as to the attribution of their masks. Though both groups use masks they are less numerous among the Ngbandi than among the Ngbaka where masks are known as Dagara and are used during initiation ceremonies known as Ganza or Gaza for young men and when boys are circumcised. Their masks are also used for agricultural ceremonies.

Recommended Reading: see Hersak Dunja's article in L. de Heuch , OBJECTS-SIGNES D'AFRIQUE for examples, and more information