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Baga Bird Mask Guinea African Art

Product #: 126712
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Title Baga Bird Mask Guinea African Art
Type of Object Mask
Country of Origin Guinea
People Landuma, baga
Materials Wood, pigment
Approximate Age Early 20th century
Dimensions Height: 10.75 Inches
Width: 7.75 Inches
Depth: 9.5 Inches
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.

Addition Information: A wonerful example of the known Landuma sculpture motif "Tonkongba".  But the motif is not well understood: some suggest it represents a Crocodile while others suggested it is a Dolphin.  Landuma culture is steeped in local mythology and secrecy.  It served not only as a headpiece with a grass (raffia) costume that reached to the ground covering the dancer but was also kept on a shrine (altar) as an important object endowed with magical powers.

The headpiece does not represent a specific being or animal but is a mythic and symbolic composite.  Despite the bovine style horns and extended face the mask known as Tonkongba among the Baga and Tabakan among the Landuma people, the mask-headpiece is said to be a creature from the sea.  It was also called Namba among the neighboring Nalu. However in much of the literature it is identified with the Landuma.  

Recommended Reading:

D. Paulme, African Sculpture (London, 1962)

D. Paulme: ‘Structures sociales en pays Baga’, Bull. Inst. Fr. Afrique Noire, xviii/1–2

       (1956), pp. 98–116

P. Meauzé: African Art (Cleveland, 1968)

D. Paulme: ‘Head (Elek)’, For Spirits and Kings: African Art from the Paul and

                   Ruth Tishman Collection, ed. S. Vogel; (New York,1981), pp. 58–9

D. T. Niane, ‘Nimba: Goddess of Fertility in Baga Land’, Afrique Hist., i (1982),

                    pp. 63–4

F. Lamp,  ‘The Art of the Baga: A Preliminary Inquiry’, African Arts, xix/2 (1986),

pp. 64–7, 92

F. Lamp,   Art of the Baga.  (New York,1996)