(Guinea) – wood and iron -
h cm 95
Edith Hafter collection,
Bernard Dulon collection,
Private collection, Brescia
- Die Kunst von
Kunsthaus, Zurich, 1970
- Afrique Noire,
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Neuchatel, 1971
- Afrika – Maske
Historischen Museum, Olten, 1989
- Elsy Leuzinger,
Die Kunst von Schwarz-Afrika, Recklinghausen, 1970, fig.
- 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
archived at Yale University Art Gallery, by Guy van Rijn.
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
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.