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Obamba Mask

Gabon

Carved wood, pigments and fibers
Early 20th century

Height: 15 ¾ in (40 cm)

Field-collected in 1960
Ex collection Dr. Jean-Claude Andrault
Ex private collection

Yale University Art Gallery GvR Archive 0025512

Published: PAD – Paris Tribal 2016

Price: sold

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This imposing mask from central Gabon is characterized by striking contrasts. The ornamentation of the face sections alternates red, black, and white. The suppleness of the curve of the arch of the eyebrows gives way to the taut lines of the forehead and the bridge of the nose. The whole of the face is built around variations in color and volume demonstrating absolute mastery in composition.
Of a very rare typology, this large mask was field-collected in Gabon by Dr. Jean-Claude Andrault in 1960. It is difficult to give a precise attribution to this mask in terms of origin. Its differentiated polychrome sections, clearly defined volumes, and the shape of the forehead suggest an Obamba attribution but these characteristics can also be found among the neighboring Aduma and Fang peoples. Indeed, the regions of Ogooué-Ivindo and Upper Ogooué in Gabon where the mask was collected have always been areas at the center of intense exchange and interpenetration as far as cultures, beliefs and artistic forms are concerned.