Wood with encrusted black patina
Height 13 7/8in (35.2cm)
Charles Ratton, Paris
Hélène and Philippe Leloup, Paris
Important Private Collection, acquired from the above in 1991
LaGamma, Alisa, Genesis - Ideas of Origin in African Sculpture, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2002, pp. 113 - 114, cat. 69
Roger-Vasselin, Bruno and Laurelle Rincon, Sculpture Africaine, les Mythes d'Orgine, L'Oeil, No. 44, Paris, February 2003, pp. 34 - 41
Nooter, Polly, The Inner Eye - Vision and Transcendence in African Arts, "Tribal Art," Summer 2017, No. 84, illus.
Genesis - Ideas of Origin in African Sculpture, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 19 November 2002 - 13 April 2003
The Inner Eye - Vision and Transcendence in African Arts, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, 26 February - 9 July 2017
LaGamma comments (Ibid., p. 113), "This especially complex, tiered horizontal headdress is exceptional for its expression of pent-up corporeal power. The compressed arc of the back and the crouching legs suggest an animal poised to spring upward. An unusual degree of attention was focused on the lower body, reflected in the ample negative space, in an hourglass shape, between the bent legs. The horizontality of the design is also more pronounced than most tiered horizontal forms because the head, neck, and tail of the lower body extend both forward and backward. This continuous line parallels the dominant upper horizontal that runs from the muzzle to the tip of the horns. The two necks emerge from the same spot in a right angle to one another. The head at the summit sits flat on a vertical neck, while the relationship is reversed below, so that the horizontal neck terminates in a vertically oriented head. The elegant sweep of the main set of horns is echoed above by another pair of horns and below by the tail.
This work give compelling evidence that horizontal headdresses were not modeled on a single animal found in nature but rather represent an abstract force expressed through an amalgam of zoomorphic features. Here the animal in the lower half, which appears to be an aardvark, is more fully realized than in others because of the inclusion of its head. Nevertheless, the syncretic approach that appears to inform this headdress and related works is made all the more overt because of the fantastical nature of the double-headed creature. It is as if the headdress captures the moment when the two entities were fused together."