Fang Ngil Society Mask on Custom Stand Gabon
A large Fang Ngil mask with face painted in white and red with an elongated heart-shaped face painted in white, prominent eyebrows , eyes and mouth pierced and relief forms on chin area. This mask demonstrates signs of substantial use. It comes from an old collection! This Fang mask comes with its own stand and it would hold a prominent place in a collection.
The purity of its forms equals its spiritual identity.¬† In fact, among the Fang such masks are identified with the Ngil society. 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 exorcizing 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.
During migrations which took place in the late 18th and early 19th centuries the Fang population of approximately 200,000 moved to their present area stretching from southern Cameroon, through Equatorial Guinea into present day Gabon. Occupying a large geographical region over an extended period of time the Fang have developed a cultural 'kinship' with the various peoples in the region resulting in a number of shared sculptural styles that have been identified under the general name of Fang. Well known for their reliquary figures, the Fang also danced finely sculpted masks during a number of ritual activities.
I have examined this piece and agree with the description ~Niangi Batulukisi, PhD.