Mbembe Janus mask

Mbembe Janus mask

Published: Tribal Art magazine nr. 78 ( winter 2015) page. 40

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Exhibited: since this mask was originally covered with skin, it was exhibited in Netherland at “De Huid als Communicatiemiddel” (“Skin as a means of communication”) from 12 sept.2015 >16 may 2016, “Nederlands Leder en Schoenen Museum”(“Skin as means of communication”) an exhibition in Waalwijk (Netherland).

Provenances :
Lucien van de Velde, Antwerp, Belgium
Jean-Pierre Jernander, Brussels, Belgium
Alex Arthur, Brussels, Belgium
Mort Golub, USA (artist)
Jan Kusters, Netherland

Janus headed helmet mask from the Mbembe Akparabong tribe , Nigeria

H: 42 cm.

Wood, painted in black, white and red, cylindrical blackened corpus, carved with nearly identical faces, whitened with kaolin and crowned with short horns, showing differing scarification marks ( this small concentric circle motif is called “drum of ngbe”), writing on one side “ako…mone…47…”, sligh damages on paint, cracks, missing parts because of insect caused damage, paint rubbed off, water spots;
various drilled holes proving that the mask originally was completely coated with skin, and was dyed at a later date, possibly there were feathers inset on top of the head and a further head crest that presumably was removed.
TRIBE: The middle Cross River region is populated by several Bantoid groups Ejagham (Ekoi), Mbembe, Yakö, as well as by northeastern Ibo peoples.

The most popular art form, the helmet mask with one or more faces, seems to be common to all of them. In most cases such masks were identified as Ibibio or Cross River Ibo, though, like the present one, they belong to the Ejagham complex and relate to the art of the Akparabong clan.

Description courtesy of Zemanek, Münster, Würzburg – July 2009-nr.282.

GVR Archives Registration Nr.: 0011227

Lit.: Wittmer, Marcilene K., Arnett, William, Three Rivers of Nigeria, Atlanta 1978, p. 77, ill. 181

Price: 4,000 €

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