Sierra Leone, a large and imposing facemask of hammered brass, with applied decorations attached by rivets. Exceptional patina. height 16in
Provenance: Wally and Brenda Zollman
Exhibited: Museum of Anthropology, Ball State University, Indiana, 1988 Governors State University, IL, 2003 Krannert Art Museum, IL, 2003 Belger Art Foundation/University of Missouri-Kansas City, MO, 2004 Tall Grass Art Association, IL, 2005
Published: Celenko, T. African Art in Cultural Context: Selections from the Wally and Brenda Zollman Collection, Ball State University , 1988. Fig. 3
Bourgeois and Rodolitz, REMNANTS OF RITUAL: SELECTIONS FROM THE GELBARD COLLECTION OF AFRICAN ART, Ethnos, New York, 2003, p.6, fig.13
The Temne people of Northern Sierra Leone create masks out of hammered brass that are called Aron Arabai, and are considered to be the alter-ego or spiritual double of the Chief of the village that they come from. This rare mask, one of three known by the same smith or workshop, would have originally been dramatically attired in a long flowing robe of Cowrie shells sewn on red cloth, with rows of red leather amulets in bands above the face. The bright metallic surface enhanced the role of this important mask that at once was the concept of the chief in a dramatic and ritual context and the chief himself.