Fang Four Faced Helmet Mask Gabon
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A superb Fang helmet mask with four faces in the traditional heart-shaped form. The faces are painted in white, but each is a bit different from one another. ¬†The mask is equipped with a wooden base for immediate display. ¬†
Such a mask mask comes from the Fang. It is called ¬†Ngontang (or Ngontanga). The original Ngontang ¬†mask appeared among the Fang people of Southern Cameroon and Gabon shortly before 1920. It represents a spirit of the dead. visiting as a young white woman from the world beyond. The mask was used to locate sorcerers‚Äìthose who misuse spiritual powers‚Äìbut also danced at feasts, funerals, celebrations of birth, and on the occasion of an important communal decision.¬†Examples exist¬† from one to four faces.
The Fang migrated from the northeast over the centuries into the scattered areas in which they live today. They were a fierce people, seizing lands and villages as they spread. Today they number around 80 clans, and are spread over a vast area. Their geographic distribution, and the isolation and autonomy of the individual clans, has helped create many artisitic sub-styles. Each community is headed by a leader related to the founder of the village. They are mostly farmers, and ancestor worship continues to be the glue that binds each village together. The impact of the Fang in creating a wider appreciation for African art cannot be ignored, and viewing one of their masterpieces can be a thrilling and memorable experience.
From the Collection of Robert Pearson, Denver, Colorado
Bob Pearson began collecting African art later in his life.¬†¬†He was an engineer, inveterate climber, and long-time collector of books and paintings.¬†¬†Spurred by the Douglas Society at the Denver Museum of Art, and his friendship with noted collector George Heggarty, he began building an enormous, eclectic collection. His African art library grew to several hundred books.¬†¬†He loved textiles and ‚Äúmaterial culture‚Äù-things that had domestic use, like spoons, cups, stools, and chairs, as well as masks and carvings.¬†¬†His collection included items from more than thirty African countries, and his fine eye gave him pieces ranging from a gold dust scale to huge Dogon figural ladders.¬†¬†Africa Direct is honored to have been chosen to sell them.