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Vili Yombe Mask Palm Kernel Headdress with Nails Congo African Art

Product #: 116711
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Title Vili Yombe Mask Palm Kernel Headdress with Nails Congo African Art
Country of Origin Democratic Republic of Congo
People Vili or Yombe, Bakongo
Materials wood, pigment, glass, cowrie shells, palm kernels, brass nails, iron nails, cotton fabric
Approximate Age Early 20th century
Dimensions Height: 14 Inches
Width: 12 Inches
Depth: 11 Inches
Overall Condition fair to good
Damage/Repair some missing beads, cracked encrustation. one rim hole is broken

Additional Information: This mask painted in several vibrant tones gives a striking visage.  The glass eyes and open mouth suggest the hand of a Yombe artist.  The headdress is unique, with a glass crest, red beads, and palm kernels.  This mask shows a great visual appeal and a powerful presence and will hold a prominent place in a collection. 

The features of the face are carved with great concern for details and naturalistic expression that are often found in the masks of the Woyo and Vili and also the Yombe.  All share in many of the uses of masks and figures with other members of the greater Kongo Kingdom.  Such masks are used during initiations, funerals of important individuals or may have social control functions or are used by diviners and healers.  When used by diviners the mask exercised power in the same fashion as the well-known nkissi figures (also known as nail fetishes) that is also seen in this mask with the nails forming the coiffure.  

Recommended  Reading:  

J. Cornet;  Art of Africa, Treasures from the Congo.  1971

E. M. Maurer and Niangi, B.:  Spirits Embodied: Art of the Congo. 1999.

Art of the Congo, Walker Art Center

CT 8/17