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Size 37 cm
Material Wood
Origin D.R. Congo

This Bena Lulua mask is formally very close to the well-known mask from the Barbier-Mueller museum in Geneva.

Its overall shape, the pointed chin, the circular structure on the top, and similar geometric patterns indicate the work of the same carver. In his book Luluwa: Central African art between heaven and earth, Constantine Petridis says about the Barbier-Mueller mask: "Perhaps one of the best known Central African works from the Barbier-Mueller Museum is the alleged Luluwa mask that was previously owned, among others, by the renowned French art dealer Charles Ratton and the avant-garde painter and African art collector André Lhote.

This prestigious reputation was confirmed in 1930 after its inclusion in the historical exhibition at the Galerie Pigalle in Paris. Its general shape, the carving of its facial features and, not the least, its painted surface set it apart from many of the more classical or typical Luluwa examples. The fact that it has no eye slits suggests that it was probably placed diagonally on the forehead."

In spite of the absence of a prestigious provenance, the importance of such a work of art in the general context of masks from the Congo Basin is beyond any doubt. Coming from a colonial collection it can be considered as an important discovery.

Private collection, Belgium