Hélène and Philippe Leloup, Paris; with Hélène Leloup (then Hélène Kamer) by 1970
American Private Collection, acquired from the above in 1993
Elsy Leuzinger, Die Kunst von Schwarz-Afrika, Zurich, 1970, cat. no. N. 38 (listed)
Ernst Winiski, Gesichter Afrikas/Visages d'Afrique/Faces of Africa, Lucerne, 1972, pp. 86-87
Kunsthaus Zürich, Die Kunst von Schwarz-Afrika, October 31, 1970 - January 17, 1971
Masks of the Benue river area are typically abstract and schematic (see Warrens and Nooter, African Art in American Collections, Washington, 1989, p. 296). The present example is a “female” mask, also referred to colloquially as the “grandmother” or “old woman” type. Its large, orblike round eyes, grooved hairstyle in relief and open projecting mouth are typical of Mumuye female masks. These masks are used during the Vabong ceremony, which constitutes the fifth phase of one of the Mumuye initiation rituals. During the Vabong, masks representing both male and female spirits were brought out as a signal for the initiates to perform ceremonial whipping (see Neyt, Mumuye, Paris, 2006, p. 42). For a similar example see Neyt, ibid., cat. no. 765.