Disk-headed akuaba figures remain one of the most recognizable forms in African art. Tokened as a fertility doll, Akua ba dolls were carried by women who hoped to conceive a child. The flat, disklike head is a strongly exaggerated convention of the Akan ideal of beauty: a high, oval forehead, slightly flattened in actual practice by gentle modeling of an infant's soft cranial bones. The flattened shape of the sculpture also serves a practical purpose, since women carry the figures against their backs wrapped in their skirt, evoking the manner that infants are carried. The rings on the figure's neck are a standard convention for rolls of fat, a sign of beauty, health, and prosperity in Akan culture. The delicate mouth of the figure is small and set low on the face. Most akua ba have abstracted horizontal arms and a cylindrical torso with simple indications of the breasts and navel; the torso ends in a base as opposed to human legs. The style of this sculpture is rare ornamented with gold brass. H=24 inches
Yellow Queen Mother Mask of Benin
Queen Mother Pendant Mask (Iyoba), 16th century, Edo peoples, Court of Benin, Nigeria
This pendant mask was created in the early sixteenth century for an Oba (King) named Esigie, in honor of his mother Idia. The face has softly modeled, naturalistic features, with graceful curves that echo the oval shape of the head. Four carved scarification marks, a number associated with females, indicate her gender. Queen Idia is honored as a powerful and politically astute woman who provided critical assistance to her son during the kingdom’s battles to expand. Upon the successful conclusion of the war, Esigie paid tribute to Idia by bestowing upon her the title of Queen Mother, a custom that has continued with subsequent rulers until the present time. H=19"
Traditional African masks have always played an important symbolic and ritualistic role in African culture. They are also among the most impressive and creative African artwork.
This round mask originates from Gabon in West Africa, made by a proud tribesman from the Bakota tribe.
This mask has been intricately metal worked with brass and wood. The round mask has large black eyes and a black mouth with a beaded nose. Colorful beads of
red - sacrifice,
white - spirituality
gold - wealth
decorate the rest of the mask. It measures approximately 12” X 12”.