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Chamba Lang Gbadna buffalo mask
Spirits of the bush in the African art of Benue
Imposing African Chamba mask from the village of Yelba in Nigeria. It is a helmet mask representing a spirit of the bush: the buffalo. It bears the name of lang gbadna.
Settled in the Benue region of Nigeria, the Chamba or Tchamba are divided into clans and chiefdoms, each associated with a vara cult of deceased ancestors. The object of worship is the veneration of ancestors, as well as the protective spirit of the bush. The skulls of deceased chiefs are preserved and honored to ensure the well-being, prosperity and fertility of the entire community.
In dances dedicated to the vara cult, masked men come out to mark the funerals of leaders and important members of the cult. The masks also come out as part of the circumcision and initiation rites of young boys and also during the enthronement of new leaders.
Called nam gbalang, lang gbadna, vara, or badna according to the Chamba subgroups, these masks represent the wild and powerful character of the dangerous spirits of the forest.
When not in use, lang gbadna masks are placed in the bush outside the village.
This huge wooden mask bears traces of intensive use. Acquired at the end of the 1990s by the Belgian painter and sculptor François Charles Bazelaire (1944 - 2021), it joined its imposing collection which is very successful on the African art market.
- Presumed dating
- Mid XXth century
- 85 cm
- Ethnic group
- François C. Bazelaire, painter and sculptor, Bruxelles
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