The upcoming October 2nd African art auction is composed of more than 40 tribal masks and complemented by related items. Carved out in this collection are masks and objects integral to traditional African ceremonies. Imbued with stylized detail and tremendous depth of meaning, handcrafted African pieces are widely exhibited alongside modern sculptures.
An evocative mask of the Pende people bears a resemblance to Edvard Munch’s iconic The Scream paintings. Pende masks were used during rituals involving initiation and education.
Another eerie mask is by the Songye people, also from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They have long been considered superior artisans best known for their pottery and metalwork.
The Lega people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo use masks as vital initiation objects that enforce social order. One of their masks in the auction has a Close Encounters look to it.
Yoruba priests in Nigeria enlist the aid of Osanyin, the spirit of herbal medicines. Osanyin healing staffs were used to ward off the spirits that would “drain the life force out of people” thus making them ill. This healing staff, the opening lot in the sale, dates to the 19th or 20th century.
Yoruba healers wear masks to drive away evil spirits. The Yoruba people also use masks during funerary ceremonies to embody the spirit of the deceased.