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Crest mask
Date: Late 19th to mid-20th century
Medium: Wood, horn, plant fiber, spider silk
Dimensions: H x W x D: 76 x 46 x 41 cm (29 15/16 x 18 1/8 x 16 1/8 in.)
Credit Line: Gift of Walt Disney World Co., a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company
Geography: Manje Nkoutou village, Grassfields region, Cameroon
Object Number: 2005-6-95
Search Terms:
male
Status
spider
Object is not currently on exhibit

This crest mask is power personified. Ground spiders are used in divination practices in the Cameroon Grassfields region as a way of gaining access to divine knowledge. The eyes of this mask are covered with silk taken from spider egg sacs or the lining of the nest of the ground-dwelling tarantula. The top of the head is carved to represent a prestige cap worn by men of high status. Horns symbolize the power of the animal and are used throughout Africa as containers for materials associated with hunting, magic, divination and curing.

Wood crest mask in the form of a human face with a large "ruff" of dark brown raffia fiber at the base of the head. The mask wears a carved depiction of a 2 lobed knotted cap with a design of lizards or frogs and has black, deeply incised features, an open mouth with teeth, a large nose and bulging eyes with light yellow felted spider silk covering the eyes. Two antelope horns frame the face. Note: these hung down from 1966 to 2005, but were reversed to match the 1961 field photo.

Paul and Ruth Tishman, New York, after 1961-before 1966 to1984


The Walt Disney-Tishman African Art Collection Highlights, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., May 21, 2009-June 4, 2014



African Vision: The Walt Disney-Tishman African Art Collection, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., February 15, 2007-March 31, 2009



For Spirits and Kings: African Art from the Paul and Ruth Tishman Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1981



Sculpture of Black Africa: The Paul Tishman Collection, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, October 16, 1968-January 5, 1969; The High Museum of Art, Atlanta; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, August 31-November 1, 1970; University of Texas College of Fine Arts, Austin; City Art Museum, St. Louis, August 20-October 17, 1971, no. 47; Des Moines Art Center; Huntington Galleries, Huntington, WV



Masterpieces of African Art: Tishman Collection, Israel Museum, Spertus Gallery, Jerusalem, Spring-Summer 1967



City Art Museum of Saint Louis. 1971. Sculpture of Black Africa: The Paul Tishman Collection. Special addendum (August 20-October 17). Saint Louis, p. 36, no. 47.



Geary, Christraud M. 2011. Visions of Africa: Bamum. Milan: 5 Continents Editions, pp. 47, 76, 107, no. 15, cover.



Jenke, Veronika. 2007. Explore! African Vision: The Walt Disney-Tishman African Art Collection. Exhibition booklet. Washington, D.C.: National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, pp. 15-16, 26.



Kreamer, Christine Mullen. 2010. "Impermanent by Design: The Ephemeral in Africa’s Tradition-based Arts." African Arts 23 (1), pp. 20-21, no. 11.



Kreamer, Christine Mullen, Bryna Freyer and Andrea Nicolls. 2007. African Vision: The Walt Disney-Tishman African Art Collection. Washington, D.C.: National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, pp. 182-183, no. 60.



Muze'on Yisra'el. 1967. Masterpieces of African Art: Tishman Collection. Jerusalem: The Israel Museum, no. 131.



Tardits, Claude. 2004. L'histoire singulière de l'art Bamoum. Paris: Afredit: Maisonneuve & Larose, p. 92, no. 77.



Vogel, Susan (ed). 1981. For Spirits and Kings: African Art from the Paul and Ruth Tishman Collection. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 184-185, no. 108.


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