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African tribal art

Online auction showcases African tribal art July 21

African tribal art
Songye shield, Democratic Republic Congo, about 34½in x 14¼in x 8¾in. Estimate $1,500-$2,000. Jasper52 image

NEW YORK – Jasper52 will present an online auction of Unique Tribal Art on Tuesday, July 21. The 96-lot auction includes rare hand-crafted masks, figures and shields from tribes around Africa. Bid absentee or live online exclusively through LiveAuctioneers.

A large Songye shield from the Congo is adorned with the miniature representation of a Kifwebe mask carved in high relief and polychrome decoration of concentric lines. Like most shields in both public and private collections, this one (above) is carved in a light and softwood. It measures about 34½ by 14¼ by 8¾ inches (est. $1,500-$2,000).

Also from the Songye is a large, old kifwebe mask (below). The male Kifwebe masks are real modern sculptures with audacious architecture and exuberant shapes that instantly evoke Cubism. Despite defects and repairs, the one offered in the auction remains a superb mask (est. $1,500-$2,000).

African tribal art
Large Songye male kifwebe mask, Democratic Republic Congo, wood, 27½in high. Estimate: $1,500-$2,000. Jasper52 image

The Dan people of the Ivory Coast are also known for their art, especially mask rituals. A beautiful Dan mask exhibits original asymmetry, especially visible at the chin. The wooden mask measures about 9¾ inches high and has a $2,500-$3,000 estimate.

African tribal art
Ivory Coast Dan mask, wood, 9¾in high. Estimate: $2,500-$3,000. Jasper52 image

The highest estimate in the auction is reserved for a large Lega Bwami Muminia mask, which is also from the Congo. Considered rare, Muminia masks are used during initiation rites to the second grade of the highest level of Bwami (Lutumbo Lwa Yananio). These are generally fairly large masks compared to other Lega masks and are the collective property of the community.
All Lega masks were used as part of the cult of the Bwami, an association that organized the social structure and ensured the stability of the Lega community. This restored mask is expected to sell for $9m000-$11,000.

African tribal art
Large Lega Bwami Muminia cult mask, Democratic Republic Congo, 10¾in high. Estimate $9,000-$11,000. Jasper52 image

A Lega Idimu Bwami mask from the Congo has a heart-shaped face covered with kaolin, which is very characteristic of that tribe’s art. The eyes on this beautiful mask are placed obliquely, an uncommon characteristic (est. $1,100-$1,500).

African tribal art
Lega Idimu Bwami mask, Democratic Republic Congo. Estimate: $1,100-$1,500. Jasper52 image

The Jasper52 auction of Unique Tribal Art will be conducted on Tuesday, 21, starting at 6 p.m. Eastern time.

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