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    Description

    SALAMPASU, Democratic Republic of the Congo
    Mask

    Wood, pigment, fiber

    The Salampasu have a reputation of ferocity among their neighbors and are greatly feared. They are loosely governed by territorial chiefs who supervise village chiefs. Men hunt, trade with neighboring Chokwe people, to whom they have also paid tribute, or become warriors. Farming for sustenance is carried out by women.

    A men's warrior society protects villages. Boys are initiated into it at the circumcision camp, "Mukinka," where the three main types of Salampasu masks, made of woven fiber, wood or wood covered with little plates of sheet copper, are displayed to them in the initiation camp enclosure. If a man kills a leopard or an enemy, he is entitled to wear a warrior society mask. A man usually rises through the ranks of the warrior society by hard work, success in hunting or trading and by gaining wealth. He then signals his right to higher status by buying the appropriate mask with a substantial payment of livestock. He is instructed in the symbolism and esoteric knowledge associated with the mask he now "owns" by other men using the same mask. Over time, he may come to "own" many types of masks and their associated knowledge as he rises in age, knowledge and power in the warrior's society to a position of leadership.

    Masks are the dominant Salampasu art form, and they clearly exhibit Salampasu ferocity, especially in the open mouths showing white, pointed teeth which were filed into that shape for both boys and girls during the initiation process to test their bravery and discipline. A characteristically bulbous forehead, recessed, slit eyes, short, broad triangular nose and pointed chin emphasize the fierce expression, which is said to terrify women and children, who hide after the mask name is announced before it appears, afraid it might kill them.

    This is much larger than the examples usually seen, with a fine old patina and great presence.

    Provenance:
    The Robert V. Berg Collection

    Read more about the Robert V. Berg Collection here.



    Height: 15 inches, excluding attachment


    Estimate: $4,000 - $6,000.

    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.

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    July, 2016
    8th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 0
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 304

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