A 3 heads Fang Ngontang helmet mask – Gabon – Provenance Duponcheel.
African Carved Wood Helmet Mask, Gabon, Fang, the tapered form with four relief-carved heads with heart-shaped faces, with pyro-blackened projections above, (wood loss, cracks, restauration), ht. 13 1/2 in., 32 cm.
The Duponcheel fang is Genuine, Duponcheel is credited with supplying Tervuren with the best Fang masks, Ngil's etc, and this was collected on the same fieldtrip as those pieces in 1967/68. In the hand it is absolutely genuine, and so it the patina. Duponcheel ( (Brussels and New York) not only collected medieval antiques and also Archaeology and African Art. He was in the acquisition commission board of the Smithsonian.
Discussing a closely related mask in the Dallas Museum of Art, Walker (2009: 272) notes: “The [Fang groups] Betsi and Ntumu call this type of helmet mask Ngontang, a term that is a contraction of nlo ngon ntanga, which means ‘face of the daughter of the white man.' When the Betsi and Ntumu peoples first encountered the Europeans, they believed the Europeans were spirits returned from the world of the dead. Introduced in the 1920s, the mask has multiple faces with eyes that see everything, and it was a ritual object that fought against malevolent forces such as witchcraft. […] It is thought the Ngontang replaced the ngil mask, which policed the Fang communities and was banned by the French colonial government.”
-Collected by Christian Duponcheel in Gabon in 1967-68.
– Paul and Peggy Rabut collection ( illustrated in Tribal arts magazine ) .
– Skinner Inc. Boston 2008,
– Chris Wild collection,
– Jan Kusters collection.
Published: – The Mysterious World of Paul Rabut , By Charles Derby . Tribal art magazine
#33 – Winter 2003