Ngbaka Mask, Democratic Republic of the Congo #220

$ 1,200.00 $ 2,400.00
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  • Ngbaka Mask, Democratic Republic of the Congo #220
  • Measurements:  21×17×5.5 cm
  • Condition: Excellent
  • Provenance: Private collection, UK
  • The face has a small, rectangular mouth and broad cheeks. This mask, with a deep square interior, bears strong resemblance to Ngbaka masks featured on on Guy van Rijn’s website: object numbers 0036279, 0036280 and 0036283. Though the Ubangi River region of Central Africa is a little-studied area, it is believed that such masks were used in initiation rituals. According to the National Museum of African Art – Smithsonian Institution, “Identification of art objects with specific peoples in the Ubangi River region is difficult – in part because of trade and migration among the peoples themselves and also because collectors tended to concentrate on peoples who lived along the river (and were therefore more accessible), and often collecting activities were not documented. Many masks from this area are attributed to the Ngbaka, especially those with an incised pattern on the nose and forehead that represents scarification. However, this scarification was not exclusive to the Ngbaka, and given the variety of the masks themselves, is probably not a guarantee that the mask is Ngbaka. Also, the fact that the Ngbaka credit the neighboring Mbanja with the origin of circumcision and related objects confirms an exchange of ideas and objects. The Ngbaka did use masks for initiation and circumcision rituals, during which young men were secluded outside the village. Accounts describe the man in charge of instructing the young men, the man in charge of discipline and the initiates themselves wearing masks at differing points during the isolation, emergence and following celebration.”