Lot 152
  • 152

Mossi Female Figure from a Mask (Karen Wemba), Burkina Faso

60,000 - 90,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • wood
  • Height: 27 inches (68.5 cm)


Gaston de Havenon, New York
Private Collection, by descent from the above

Catalogue Note

The present figure, which was originally superimposed on a mask of which only an eroded fragment survives, belongs to a group of at least seven figural masks which Christopher Roy (1987) has attributed to a single workshop thought to originate in the Mossi kingdom of Yatenga.  Among this group a subset of examples are particularly close in style to the present figure, including the one today in the Stanley Collection at The University of Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City (ibid.: 122, inv. no. "CMS 475").  Others include one sold at Sotheby's, London, July 8, 1974, lot 137; one previously in the Vérité Collection, sold at Enchères Rive Gauche, Paris, June 17-18, 2006, lot 58; and one in the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia (Fagg 1968: 36).  The elegant cubistic construction of the human form features short legs, a pelvis of conical shape when seen from the back, and rising into a cylindrical abdomen in the front; broad, square shoulders behind large conical breasts; a neck of the same shape and diameter as the abdomen; and a round head with minimal vertical facial features, surmounted by a crested coiffure which extends to a pendant braid in the back.  The present figure is distinguished by its perfect cubist architecture, the exceptional quality of the incised scarification, especially impressive on the back of the figure, and a beautifully rich, deep patina.