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    Kuyu (Gabon)
    Ritual Head
    Wood, pigment
    Height: 20 ¼ inches Width: 5 inches Depth: 5 inches

    Quite a number of heads of this type were collected in the 1920's, a few with some supporting data (the Powell-Cotton Museum examples, for instance; see Keith Nicklin. "Kuyu Sculpture at the Powell-Cotton Museum," African Arts, vol.XVII, no.1, Nov.1983, pp.56 ff.). A number of articles published in 1918-19 by Alfred Poupon following postings to the region inhabited by the Kuyu from 1904 to 1907 and from 1913 to 1917, provide the primary source for most recent discussions of Kuyu material.
    Heads with the bilobed hairdress seen in this example are designated as having a married woman's coiffure, and are thus identified as female (Anne-Marie Bénézech. "So-called Kuyu Carvings," African Arts, vol.XXII, no.1, Nov.1988,p.56). In initiations of the Snake moiety (the other moiety was the Panther), a dancer concealed under a long, flowing gown, which was fastened at the grooved segment just below where the painted neck area begins, held the tapered handle to control the movement of the head. "At the initiation ceremony, djo, the Kuyu origin myth was enacted. ...In the Kébé Kébé dance of the initiation ceremony, the Snake-man, Eouya, imitated the actions of a serpent prior to the entry of the ancestors of Kuyu, Ebotita (the mother) and Djoku (the father). Appearing last of all was the Great Serpent, Ebongo, portrayed wearing the same kind of gown as Eouya, but carrying a smaller head high in the air. Initiation involved revealing the identity of the Great Serpent to the neophyte" (Nicklin, loc. cit., p 59, based on Poupon).
    Other than a natural shrinkage of the center core of the wood and a fine crack near the front central vertical axis, there is only slight age abrasion.

    Provenance: Michael Leach, San Rafael, California

    Condition Report*: Condition report available upon request.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2007
    7th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,395

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