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L. Pescador, 1995



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Landuman, Thönköngba mask

(Guinea) – wood and iron - h cm 95

Edith Hafter collection, Zurich

Bernard Dulon collection, Paris

Private collection, Brescia



- Die Kunst von Schwarz-Afrika, Kunsthaus, Zurich, 1970

- Afrique Noire, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Neuchatel, 1971

- Afrika – Maske und skulptur, Historischen Museum, Olten, 1989



- Elsy Leuzinger, Die Kunst von Schwarz-Afrika, Recklinghausen, 1970, fig. E21

- Elsy Leuzinger, L’arte dell’Africa nera, Milano, 1972, fig. E20

- Karl Ferdinand Schaedler, Afrika – Maske und Skulptur, Olten, 1989, page 13, fig. 3

- Magazine Qui Brescia, year 1, n. 2, September 2004, Brescia,  page 148


Piece archived at Yale University Art Gallery, by Guy van Rijn.

Archive number 0028369-01


The main ethnic groups of Baga, Nalu, the Landuman from north of the river Rio Nunez and other smaller populations of South-western Guinea may be considered part of the same ethnicity due to their sharing the same culture, in which they would exchange various objects and subsequently the style and form of their creations.


This abstract mask is an ingenious synthesis of the buffalo, turtle and snake, and perhaps signifies, according to Elsy Leuzinger, the dualism between land and water.


Very little is known about this mask named Thönköngba. Some believe it was used to protect the village and placed outside the chief’s dwellings, while others such as Frederick Lamp, argue that it was used in some tribal dances and also as an object to be placed on ritual altars.


There are no known photos of the object in situ, which demonstrates just how worthy it was considered of special protection.

Indeed, this Landuman bears all the signs of ritual use: the patina is dark and oily, which would indicate the repeated application of sacrificial liquids. Numerous traces of earth/dirt are present due to where it was placed for use, and in the internal cavity there are even traces of insect nests.


It is precisely for its mysterious appearance that this mask is all the more fascinating, full of hidden meanings and powerful rituals.