SALE END DATE AND TIME
July 31, 2016 : SALE CLOSED
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While the Egungun is the most widespread masquerade tradition throughout Yorubaland, this mask is an extremely rare example of which less than six (6) are known to exist. Many Yoruba associate the Egungun tradition with the veneration of the ancestors, who are believed to be capable of helping the living community if they are properly honored. They are also believed to be present as part of everyday existence. At a variety of different ceremonies and in a number of different ritual and ceremonial settings, the Egungun tradition is employed, even to the present day. Masks with different facial features and elaborate superstructures are the order of the day.
This mask, however, has no elaborate superstructure, and is of a diminutive size when compared to other traditional Egungun masks. Rather than being garish, bulky and heavy in weight, it is thin, fine, and ultra lightweight. For this primary reason, the style, size and age of this particular mask make it extremely rare.
Of the few known comparables, here is the history: one was photographed by Leo Frobenius in 1912, and is in the Yale Archive, assigned No. 0121111-01. Scholars and academics that have viewed this particular example have emphasized its rarity and have mentioned the Yale Archive mask as the only example they have seen. Research has led us to find more comparables. The second is a similarly designed face mask (not of the helmet type) published in Fagg and Pemberton’s “Yoruba Sculpture of West Africa, Knopf, NY, 1982, p 77. The third mask, which we have handled in person and remains in a private collection in New York, is also listed and noted in the Yale archive as “Egungun face mask, from between Oyo and Shakti”. Although Egungun masks are almost universal in Yorubaland, only in this small [geographical] area are they made to wear in front of the face; and it is strange that there seems to be no occurrence of such masks among the neighbors of the Yoruba, except for an anomalous appearance at the Nupe town of Mokwa far to the east. Frobenious collected several of these northern Yoruba masks in 1910 (see Frobenious, 1913, Vol. 1 p 201 and Krieger and Kutscher, 1960 plates 18 and 19). Their continued use was verified in 1959 (W. Fagg, Christie’s, 1976). The final example is in a private American collection also archived in Yale, with broad chin and slight smile, also exceptionally fine and still retaining most of its original pigment stain coloration. It is our opinion and that of others, including collectors and scholars, that this mask has been extremely well preserved and cared for through decades and dates to the earliest part of the 1900s or late 1800s. A highly collectible mask with historical importance and an exceptionally naturalistic presence in person.
|Lot ID: 93|
|Low Estimate: $4,000|
|High Estimate: $6,000|
|Next Bid: $2,100|
|Sale ID: 6|
|Sale Date: July 28, 2016|
|Sale Location: Virtual Auction|
|Sale Sponsor: African Artworks from Berz Gallery of African Art|
|Sale Terms: View here|
|Live Bidding Link: SALE CLOSED|
|Location of Origin: Africa|
|Medium/Materials: wood, stain|
|Dimensions: 7'' (17.78 cm) height|
|Primary Classification: African Artwork, Ethnographic & Tribal Arts : African Art : Country - Nigeria|
|Secondary Classification: African Artwork, Ethnographic & Tribal Arts : African Art : Object Type - Mask|
|The word ‘Yoruba’ describes both a language and a tribe living across Nigeria and the Popular Republic of Benin, in an area of forest and savannah. Their origins can be traced back to the end of the first millennium like the civilization of Ife. Following the collapse of the Ife civilization, a number of kingdoms such as the Ijebu and the Oyo emerged. They, in turn, disintegrated during the 18th and 19th centuries, but were revived by the colonial powers at the end of the 19th century and today still form the political structure of the Yoruba people. The enormous scale of the slave trade in Nigeria contributed to the Diaspora of the Yoruba people and informed spiritual practices in countries such as Haiti (Ref: Bacquart, “Tribal Arts of Africa”; Beckwith and Fisher, “African Ceremonies”; Fagg, Pemberton and Holcombe, “Yoruba,” 1982). Yoruba culture and links to traditional Yoruba religion and belief systems are integrated heavily in an area that spans the Caribbean and Southern United States and Cuba, Brazil and Latin America, and throughout parts of Europe and Africa. Further expertise:|
|Provenance: Ex. Michael Oliver, NY (original certificate of authenticity and ownership included), Ex. Private Collection, Switzerland; Exhibition History: Vetted by a committee of tribal art experts as antique and authentic and exhibited at BRUNEAF Brussels, June 2015|
|Price:||Price on Request|
|Offered By:||CLOSED: African Artworks : 146 Lots : July 28-30|
|Contact:||The Curator's Eye|
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