Gabon, a lovely and well-patinated example; the four faces sensitively rendered displaying classical pyro-engraving. height 15in
Exhibited: 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: Bourgeois and Rodolitz, REMNANTS OF RITUAL: SELECTIONS FROM THE GELBARD COLLECTION OF AFRICAN ART, Ethnos, New York, 2003, p.28, fig.64
Known as Ngontang (or Ngontanga), this mask variety appeared among the Fang people of Southern Cameroon and Gabon by 1920. It represents a spirit of the dead visiting as a young white woman from the world beyond. Fang interpretation of the four faces on this mask varies from faces of four spirits to four stages of life to four relatives. It should be noted that examples exist with one, two or three faces. Moreover, many examples, bear mask-like faces that all of the same size. With regards to this mask, the difference in size of the various maskettes adds to the overall interest of the piece.