wood, fiber, and paint
Gift of Fred H. Riebling
Fang artist, Ngil Mask, late 1800s. Wood, fiber, and paint; 22 x 8 ¾ x 12 ½ in. Denver Art Museum: Gift of Fred H. Riebling, 1942.443
Dimensionsheight: 22 in, 55.8800 cm; depth: 8 3/4 in, 22.225 cm; width: 12 1/2 in, 31.75 cm
This type of mask was worn by the Ngil—a secret society banned by French colonial rulers in 1910—during initiations, ceremonies, and processions. The society’s name means “gorilla,” and the masks arched eyebrows and broad, rounded forehead may be meant to model the face of a gorilla. The mask was originally white—a color that the Fang associate with ancestral spirits, death, and male virility.
Known ProvenanceCollected by Dr. A. L. Bennett, probably in the 1890s. Fred. H. Riebling, Denver, CO, before 1942; Denver Art Museum, 1942.
- "Les Forêts Natales: Arts d'Afrique équatoriale atlantique" ("In their Native Forests: Arts of Atlantic Equatorial Africa")—Musee du Quai Branly, France, 10/3/2017 - 1/21/2018