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Mambila Headcrest Dog Suaga Due African Art

Product #: 127078
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Title Mambila Headcrest Dog Suaga Due African Art
Type of Object Headcrest
Country of Origin Cameroon, Nigeria
People Mambila
Materials Wood, pigment, clay
Approximate Age 20th century
Dimensions Height: 17 Inches
Width: 7 Inches
Overall Condition 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.

 Additional Information: A stylized and expressionistic mask that comes from the Mambila people of northern Nigeria. This zoomorphic and dramatic example has two large tubular eyes a small beak and two horns slightly curved. Traces of red and and  white pigments along with encrustation and the remain of red seeds make this mask unique. This mask would have been worn over the head, with the dancer looking out between the open jaws.  Holes around the mask were used to attach a large costume made out of feathers. See image of a Suaga Due Headcrest  and an example of a Suaga mask, opposite page of  plate 60, cat.170 in African Masks From the Barbier-Mueller Collection, Prestle Munich, New York. text by Iris Hahner-Herzog, Maria Kecskesi, and Laszlo Vajda.

See a similar example in Warren M. Robbins and Nancy Ingram Nooter, African Art in American Collection. A Shiffer Book 2004, Fig. 784, p. 307


Mambila people were transferred as a group from the grasslands of northern Cameroon to northern Nigeria in 1961. Living in the Grasslands region of Cameroon and Nigeria, the Mambila hold dances at the end of the planting and harvesting seasons, in June-July and December-January. Male dancers wearing brightly-painted, carved wooden masks or a grass-woven costume dance in a strictly ranked order of appearance that includes a human-headed mask followed by a mask called Suah Bur and a similar, but smaller mask called Suah Due. The last mask to appear is a male dancer wearing a woven grass costume either dyed a dark color or patterned with red. The difficulty of attributing a firm age to Mambila art, whether of figures or masks, is that they were repainted with red, black and white paint before each appearance and therefore a worn surface as a factor of age is difficult to determine.


Recommended Reading: Young, J. Y. "African Art in the Mambila collection of Gilbert Schneider," 1967.