Sunga Bembe Kalunga helmet
African art and abstraction
This large African helmet mask is a unique example in Sumba art (oriental Bembe). Its figuration is to be compared to both the Kalunga mask representing an owl, ancestral and totemic spirit of the tribe; and the Janiform head with large eyes representing the founding ancestor of mythical origin assimilated to the spirit of the forest.
This remarkable object with abstract shapes danced during initiation rites. Its wood is partially covered with kaolin and ngula vegetable dye. Unlike the majority of helm masks, it is made up of two parts that separate vertically and are connected by ties made of vegetable fibers.