Head of a statue

Gabon-Congo boarder area

19th to early 20th Century


This head is a little bit of a mystery to be frank. I managed to trace back its field provenance to Gabon, with the help of former french Dealer and (still) Expert Jean-Luc Estournel. Found in the early 1980's in the estate of a former colonial officer posted in Gabon, the head was once attached to a statue. According to Jean-Luc Estournel, it was then sold as a head only because the statue body was far too gone due to intense insect damages. It joined the collection of Drs Nicole and John Ditenfass in New York by the mid 1980's. This was confirmed to me by Dr Ditenfass who liked the head very much and recall having to depart from it with a heavy heart.

When it comes to the style, the head shows some features from the Punu and the Tsangi masks (eyes, flat nose with ridge) while the mouth, the chin and the scarifications on the cheeks are very "Teke". And indeed, upon close look at Marc Leo Felix's map of African "tribes", there is an area in South Gabon / Congo Brazzaville boarder where Teke, Tsangi and even Kota cultures meet.

I form the hypothesis, together with some colleagues, that the head could be from that area, but one cannot be definitive and I nevertheless love the piece for the reason that drove me to it in the first place: This is the work of a sure hand, made a long time ago for ceremonial purpose, which exhudes a contained force and dignity. The head comes from a french collection, is in good condition for its age and is mounted on an wood pedestal.

H: 21 cm (8 1/3 inches)

Price : 2800 Euros enquiry