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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Fang : Fang Ngil Mask
Fang Ngil Mask - DV.037
Origin: Gabon
Circa: 1850 AD to 1930 AD
Dimensions: 17" (43.2cm) high
Collection: African Art
Medium: wood
Condition: Very Fine


Location: United States
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Description
During the 18th -19th centuries the Fang migrated from the northwest and today are scattered across Cameroon, Guinea and Gabon. Their social structure is based on the clan and family. Cohesion among the eighty or so Fang clans is maintained through powerful religious and judiciary societies called the So and Ngil. This mask expresses like no other mask of its kind the spirit of Fang art implying the religious spirit and the brutal and obscure power, the very soul of he equatorial forest. Taking into account all Fang art, even considering primitive art as a whole, the Ngil masks are, without any doubt among the rarest and the most coveted. Their rarity is to be seen in direct relation to the myth itself and their forms bordering universal concerns. The Ngil (sometimes referred to as the gorilla mask) masks were worn by members of a male society of the same name during the initiation of new members and the persecution of wrong-doers. Masqueraders, clad in raffia costumes and attended by helpers, would materialize in the village after dark, illuminated by flickering torchlight. Fang masks, such as those worn by itinerant troubadours and for hunting and punishing sorcerers, are painted white with facial features often outlined in black. Typical are large, elongated masks covered with kaolin and featuring a face that was usually heart-shaped with a long, fine nose. The Ngil society disappeared with the beginning of the colonization of Gabon in the early 1930's. Masks like this light mask represented the spirit of an ancestor and was used for social control by Ngil, the judiciary association. The facial markings, abstract features and strong elegant lines are typical. - (DV.037)

 

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