FANG NGONTANG MASKFANG NGONTANG MASKFANG NGONTANG MASKFANG NGONTANG MASKFANG NGONTANG MASKFANG NGONTANG MASKFANG NGONTANG MASKFANG NGONTANG MASKFANG NGONTANG MASKFANG NGONTANG MASKFANG NGONTANG MASKFANG NGONTANG MASKFANG NGONTANG MASK

FANG NGONTANG MASK

Ethnic group:

Fang

Country of origin:

Gabon

Material:

pigment, white kaolin, wood

Years:

Early 1900s

Dimensions:

25 cm

Cultural Background:

Helmet-shaped corpus with broad rim, open on top and provided with various drilled pyro-blackened holes, presumably for attachment of head ornament, on both sides carved with homogeneous anthropomorphic faces with forehead and cheek tattoos, on metal base.
Semi-hard reddish coloured wood, white kaolin, black pigment

Previous attribution of Zemanek (2011) to ‘Vuvi’ is incorrect because it is a helmet mask known as ‘Ngontang’- not known among the Vuvi or other southern Gabonese groups. The long straight nose is atypical of Vuvi more commonly seen in northern Gabon. Both the Kwele and Kota had a territorial interface with the Fang, and adopted some artistic concepts upon their Ngontang helmet masks. This mask possesses facial scarification specific to Fang and Kwele, represented by a black cross carved and painted below each eye, and a black dot on forehead. See Yale 0067228 for comparison of scarification with Fang, and 0012042 for comparison with Kwele . Further alluring to a possible Kwele hand in the mask’s manufacture is facial style and expression, in particular the eyes, for comparison see Yale 0023681, and low position of small mouth near to the lower facial edge also being a typical Kwele character. A Fang secret society ‘Beete cult’ mask, with known Fang function, form and origin, but probably carved by a Kwele hand.
"Ngontang" means "face of a young white girl". But its meaning is not entirely settled until today. The name could refer to a visitor from the afterlife, where all the spirits are white.

PROVENANCE:
- Ex collection Gaspereaux, Toulouse, France
- Zemanek Munster, Germany

Published
- Zemanek Munster 67:357 (as Vuvi). 3031918


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