Ngil mask

Ngil mask

late 1800s
Culture
Fang
Locale
Africa
Country
Gabon
mask
wood, fiber, and paint
Gift of Fred H. Riebling
1942.443

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

Dimensions
height: 22 in, 55.8800 cm; depth: 8 3/4 in, 22.225 cm; width: 12 1/2 in, 31.75 cm
Department
Native Arts
Collection
African Art
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 Provenance
Collected by Dr. A. L. Bennett, probably in the 1890s. Fred. H. Riebling, Denver, CO, before 1942; Denver Art Museum, 1942.
Exhibition History
  • "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