Mask (Primary Title)

Unknown (Artist)

19th-20th century
Dinga
wood, copper, brass tacks, fiber, raffia, raffia cloth, glass beads, feathers, other natural materials
Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola
Overall (with stand): 23 1/4 × 12 1/2 × 14 3/4 in. (59.06 × 31.75 × 37.47 cm)
90.154

Dinga art is known primarily through a handful of masks that were probably owned by members of a men’s society. Charms and talismans attached to the raffia head-covering demonstrate the owner’s belief in the supernatural and suggest that its owner might have been a hunter or someone well versed in the awesome powers of the wilderness. The delicate facial features are nearly obscured by polychrome markings, tacks, metal strips, and clay applications that are part of a symbolic language.

The well-worn wood, the buildup of embellishments on the face, and the successive layers of the head-covering suggest that this mask was used for years and that it acquired greater meaning and status with age.

Unsigned
Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund
Richard B. Woodward, African Art (Richmond, VA: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1994) pp. 82-83, ill.
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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