Africa Direct
Africa Direct

Fang Mask Ngil Society Gabon African Art

AvailabilityIn stock
Special Price $220.00 Regular Price $450.00
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Brand Unbranded
Title Fang Mask Ngil Society Gabon African Art
Type of Object Mask
Country of Origin Gabon
People Fang
Materials Wood, pigment, raffia
Approximate Age Mid 20th century
Height (in) 21 inch (36 inches with raffia beard)
Width (in) 10
Depth (in) 6
Dimensions Height: 21 inch (36 inches with raffia beard) Inches
Width: 10 Inches
Depth: 6 Inches
Overall Condition Good to fair. . 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 Small crack on nose, crack through forehed and eye, lip. Old arrested insect damage on cheek.

Additional Information: A Fang face carved mask painted in white. The surface and the interior are worn and the surface of the face shows signs of numerous over paintings of the face indicating its age and long use as well. The openings at the either side of the mask were used to tie the mask to the head and face of the wearer. This piece remains a good example of Fang masks.

Well known for their reliquary figures the Fang also danced finely sculpted masks during a number of ritual activities. Among the Fang white-painted masks identified with the Ngil society are known for their elegant abstractions of the human face. Ngil masks have been described as having a 'heart-shaped face' due to the facial features emphasizing refined curves of the orbital ridges above the eyes and the prominent line of the long tapering nose that ended above a discretely mouth carved at the bottom of the chin that completes the abstraction of the face. Ngil masks were worn during initiations and known for judicial and social control activities in searching out sorcerers, a process that ultimately led to their being banned by the French colonial authorities in 1910. A later development among the Fang was the appearance of a mask known as Ngontangan, "the head of the young white girl" referring to early European women missionaries who arrived on the coast during the nineteenth century. The mask may have had ritual or ceremonial meaning in the past exorcising malevolent sorcerers but appears not to carry significant symbolic weight today. Though few in number the elegant forms and abstractions of the Ngil masks made them very attractive to early modern European artistic sensibilities serving as models for a number of sculptors. While emphasizing its pure forms, the mask's white color also marks its spiritual identity.

Further Reading:Binet, J. Societes de danse chez les Fang, (Paris, 1972)Fernandez, J. 'La statuaire Fang-Gabon', African Arts, 8, No.1, 1974.Fernandez, J. W. and R. L. 'Fang Reliquary Art: Its Quantities and Qualities.'Cahiers d'etudes africaines, 15, No. 5. (1975)Perrois, L. Statuaire fang, (Paris, 1972)Perrois, L. Sculpture traditionelle du Gabon, (Paris, 1977)Perrois, L. 'Arts du Gabon, Les arts plastiques du Bassin de l'Ogoue', Arts d'Afrique Noire. 1979. Perrois, L. Arts ancestral du Gabon dans les collections du Musee Barbier-Mueller, (Geneva, 1985)Phillips, T, (ed.) Africa, The Art of a Continent, (Munich, 1995)Roy, C. Art and Life in Africa, (Iowa City, 1992)Schmalenbach, W. African Art from the Barbier-Mueller Collection, (Geneva,1988)Tessmann, G. Die Pangwe, (Berlin and New York, 1913(1972)