Lot 18
  • 18

Temne Janus Helmet Mask, Sierra Leone

15,000 - 25,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • wood, metal, glass mirrors
  • Height: 14 1/2 in (36.8 cm)


Hélène and Philippe Leloup, New York and Paris
Allan Stone, New York


Hélène and Philippe Leloup (adv.), African Arts, May 1987, Vol. XX, No. 3, p. 27
Christie's New York, Selections from the Allan Stone Collection, November 12, 2007, illustrated on p. 193

Catalogue Note

The present mask relates to group of examples collected before World War II identified by W.A. Hart (1987: 68-74) as originating with the Temne of Sierra Leone.  This extremely rare type of mask features facial morphology including a large projecting forehead, a long, half-column shaped nose, and small, close-set eyes, and a small horizontal mouth. These masks are frequently covered with strips of repoussé-decorated metal, and several examples are of helmet-form.  An example previously in the Hooper Collection was subsequently in the collection of Allan Stone (op. cit., fig. 9); others in the group with early provenance are today in the British Museum, London, the Field Museum, Chicago and the Museum für Völkerkunde, Munich.

The Stone Temne mask is unique in the known corpus in that it is of Janus-form.  The sculptural quality is also exceptional, of elaborate and elegantly symmetrical design, with massive, gently rounded forms, and deep, V-shaped profiles. Supporting the attribution to Sierra Leone, where some of the only African sculptural traditions using stone are found, is the use of lustrous pieces of the mineral mica, attached to the surface in panels bordered by metal lattice.