African mask antiques tribal Face vintage Wood Carved Songye Kifwebe Mask-5301

$68.50 $92

32/15.5 CM
Within the exceedingly rare corpus of Maori sculpted heads, the present example, with its powerful presence and masterly rendered features, represents a particularly high achievement of the Maori sculptors' art. The head depicts an ancestor with an incised curvilinear moko tattoo and iridescent paua shell inlaid in its eyes and teeth. Tattoos, moko, were "visual representation of the whakapapa (genealogy) of an individual" (Smith, Maori. Leurs trésors ont une âme, Paris, 2012, p. 86). They were meant to visually convey the personal history of the ancestor represented, as well as his hierarchical position within society. It was the sole prerogative of the highest dignitaries and great warriors to wear a full facial moko. According to Terence Barrow, who establishes an analogy between these sculpted heads and the preserved heads of great chiefs, these pieces were portraits which could act as a substitute for a preserved head in the event of its loss or deterioration

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