I think that these are just a beautiful thing to behold. They are loving and realistic carvings of one of the great miracles of life!
This one measures about 21 x 9 inches. It is strung in the back with a jute cord so it can be hung on the wall - where they look tremendous, by the way!
The body masks celebrate the return of young men to the village after they have been initiated into adult life. The men who wear them cover their faces with a mask of a feminine face. They represent pregnant women. The feminine mask dances with great composure while a masculine mask dramatizes the pains of childbirth. An orchestra of drummers accompanies the dances.
A little more about the Makonde: Inhabiting the southeast of Tanzania and the northeast of Mozambique are about 500,000 Makonde, divided into matrilineal clans, each one comprising several villages. Decisions are made by a chief supported by a council. Clan members meet only for the ancestral cult and to celebrate initiations. According to legend, shortly after the Creation, the first man, wandering around outside the bush, sculpted a female figure out of wood, and the statue became a real woman who gave him many children and, after her death, became the venerated ancestress of the Makonde. This accounts for the ancestress cult as well as the profusion of sculpted female figures, kept in huts. In the traditional homelands of the Makonde the primary source of food comes from slash and burn farming. Crops include maize, sorghum, and cassava. This is often supplemented by hunting.
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These are tremendously beautiful masks from Gabon. Really gorgeous.
This one measures 15 x 7 inches. It is old and of high quality. The condition is as shown in the pictures.
This is some information about these masks from the Met Museum website and the Art Institute of Chicago website:
In the Punu communities of southern Gabon, mukudj masks are considered portraits of an exceptionally beautiful female member. The coiffure, featuring a prominent sagittal lobe flanked by two lateral tresses, is a classic style of dressing women's hair practiced throughout the region during the nineteenth century. Lozenge cicatrization markings were incised on the forehead and temples of Punu women as a form of aesthetic embellishment and a sign of sensuality. Classic mukudj masks often emphasize a subdivision of the motif into nine units, which is significant in light of the fact that, among the Punu, nine is considered a mystically powerful number and a catalyst in the healing process. In mukudj mask representations, the prominence of the number nine, as well as the red band that accentuates the hairline, make reference to the mystical powers commanded by the dancer. It is those powers that are believed to provide him with the talent and protection necessary to perform. The stylized rendering of the eyes, represented as closed slits, evokes a meditative serenity while at the same time affording the wearer an unobstructed view of the performance arena he must negotiate. The application of white kaolin to the surface of the masks is a reference to spiritual transcendence. The white clay is a sacred material linked to the parallel ancestral realm of existence and also a cosmetic associated with idealized beauty.
Mukudj dances are commissioned by community leaders to mark important occasions—to commemorate the memory of an important member of the community, to celebrate the return or the visit of an honored individual, or to mark a development that will enhance the community's well-being. The mukudj dance is performed on stilts of up to three meters in height; dancers must train from childhood to master the difficult and demanding choreography. During official celebrations, a mukudj dancer towers above his audience and executes acrobatic feats that demand agility, strength, and an acute sense of equilibrium. Because of the extraordinary nature of the performance, dancers are perceived as exceptional individuals who draw upon mystical powers to accomplish such a feat. The thrilling spectacle of mukudj performances alternates between passages of lyrical grace and explosive power.
Mukudj performances are appreciated as the most aesthetically appealing and exciting form of expression in Punu culture and consequently have become a national icon of Gabon. Mukudj masks are displayed as proud insignia of Punu cultural identity in domestic contexts in the capital, Libreville, as well as in rural villages of the remote interior.
This mask is defined by an elaborate and highly stylized bi-lobed coiffure, painted black, which frames an idealized female face. The face is painted white with kaolin, which both references the earthly beauty of the woman represented and symbolizes the spirits of past ancestors. The diamond-shaped scarification marks on the forehead and the square-shaped marks on the temples emphasize the perfect, symmetrical beauty of the face, with its dramatically arched eyebrows, almond-shaped slit eyes, small ears, delicate nose, and slightly protruding mouth and chin. Mukudj masks became extremely popular among European art collectors during the 1920s and 1930s, as their aestheticized and abstract attributes intersected with the ideals of modern art. Today the Punu especially embrace the mukudj mask as a sign of ethnic identity, thus often displaying them within their private domestic spaces and incorporating them into a host of celebrations and communal events.
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Great vintage handwoven wool blanket or throw made from handspun organic wool with natural colors. Very warm and with a wonderful measures 83 "X 62" and has a sweet motif of people and vines with colors that come naturally form the sheep's wool.
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These are exquisite cultural treasures. And make for wonderful decor. These come from the Dogon people of Mali. Such an amazing otherworldly aesthetic there.
The Dogon people are located in the southeastern parts of Mali. The granary door is located on a family's granary. The higher one's status, the more elaborate and complex in design the granary door would be. These doors were created to protect the harvest of the Dogon people. Primordial beings, ancestors, Kanaga masks, breasts, sun lizards and scenes of life symbolically served to protect the entrance by making it sacrosanct. Ancestral beings were carved on the door to in the purpose to protect what lies on the other side of the door. Also, these doors recognized spiritual beings that were in charge of fertility and agriculture. Masked figures were often carved on granary doors. These figures wear Kanaga masks. These masks represent the female spirit and birds. In Dogon society, birds are symbols that represent fertility. Located in a region where vegetation is quite low, the Dogon treasured the food that they had and needed to protect it; by doing so they ensured their existence. There are two types of Dogon granary, male and female. The larger male granaries (on the left) are used for storing grains. Men distribute the grain, usually millet, for the day's cooking. Male granaries are usually bigger that the female and have more than one door. The female granary (right) is used for storing other foods but also personal things like jewellery, clothing and pottery. Men are not allowed to enter a female granary.
This one measures 16 x 12 inches. Exceptionally fine weathered patina.