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Arts of Africa

The Ngbandi are a relatively small group, numbering less than a quarter million, and their masks are exceedingly rare, though the Ngbandi are prolific sculptors of figures, pipes, and musical instruments. Ngbandi communities are organized into clans led by elders with the aid of the warrior society, the Lombe, which plays an important role in implementing social control on behalf of the elders. Ngbandi masks such as this are thinly documented, though a related mask was found to have been used by Lombe diviners.

William Villalongo has included this particular mask in his collage Re: History—Muses (Artifact 3) nearby.
MEDIUM Wood, pigment
DATES 19th century
DIMENSIONS 10 1/2 x 6 5/8 x 2 3/4 in. (26.7 x 16.8 x 7 cm) mount (display dimensions): 10 1/2 x 7 x 3 in. (26.7 x 17.8 x 7.6 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
CREDIT LINE Museum Expedition 1922, Robert B. Woodward Memorial Fund
PROVENANCE Prior to 1922, provenance not yet documented; by 1922, acquired by François Poncelet of Brussels, Belgium; 1922, purchased from François Poncelet by Stewart Culin in Brussels for the Brooklyn Museum.
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CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Flat, ovoid-shaped, mask made from hard wood. Hairline rendered in relief. Row of horizontal cuts from hair line down to middle of face. Holes bored through upper lip and bottom of each ear. Three-line horizontal cuts from lower lip to chin. Line of vertical cuts on temples. Masklike eye sockets light in color. Teeth made of splints of wood inserted in lips. Condition is good.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Ngbandi. Mask, 19th century. Wood, pigment, 10 1/2 x 6 5/8 x 2 3/4 in. (26.7 x 16.8 x 7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Expedition 1922, Robert B. Woodward Memorial Fund, 22.226. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 22.226_edited_version_SL1.jpg)
IMAGE side, 22.226_edited_version_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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