Illustration principale
Mbunda Mask
Mbunda people, Southeastern Angola/Zambia, 19th century
Wood, pigments, cord
Height : 56 cm

Provenance : Bryan Reeves, London
Collection Alexandre Bernand, Paris

Publication : "Masken"
(M. Doustar, 2015), n°18
The Mbunda are a Bantu-speaking people who migrated from northern to southeastern Angola during the Bantu expansion, in the middle of the first millenium, and further east to Zambia in the late 18th century.
In his essay Mukanda and Makishi (M. L. Felix & M. Jordan, 1998 : 85-125), Manuel Jordan writes that the Mbunda, like their Chokwe, Luchazi, Lunda and Lwena neighbours, have different masks with the attributes of chiefs. Sachihongo is the primordial representation of a chief for the Mbunda, and it is usually worn by relatives of a senior chief on special occasions. “Sachihongo embodies all the qualities and attributes of a chief, visually defined in the unique Mbunda style of carving. The Mbunda are known for creating large wooden masks with full, rounded forms (...). Mbunda carvers favor wide, flat, and round forms that define the facial features dramatically. A stylistic element used almost exclusively by Mbunda maskmakers is the practive of carving deep wrinkles in the forehead above the orbits of the eyes. These two sets of parallel arched lines meet at a sharp angle at a point above the nose. Sachihongo, too, wears an elaborate feathered headpiece. Carvers generally add a flat crown as an extension of the head, sometimes decorated with designs, to which the feathers can be attached easily. True to Mbunda style, Sachihongo is characterized by “exaggerated” features, such as wide, bulging cheeks and forehead, a large nose, and a pronounced mouth that usually includes carved teeth. A dense fiber beard is commonly attached to the lower edge of the mask.” (1998 : 116-117)
This old and powerful mask shares characteristics common to most Sachihongo masks, nevertheless it is quite unique in the genre. Carved in high relief with extremely large and geometrical features, contrasting with finer details such as the pointed teeth or stylized nostrils, the artist has also divided the face in two parts, each painted in a different color. The white side symbolizes the positive energy, while the red is the evil side, if someone goes on that side of the mask it will harm him.
Price : 12.000 euros