A fine Eastern Pende Panya-Gombe African mask. Coll.: David Norden
Ethnology Vienna Austria
read also: African Art at the Museum fur Volkerkunde in Vienna
Africa south of the Sahara
The Africa Department with an inventory of c. 37.000 objects comprises the most extensive collection of the house. About one half of the present stock reached the museum before 1927. The ethnographic exhibits cover Africa from the southern rim of the Sahara to the southern tip of the continent, from Christian Ethiopia in the east to Islamic Mauretania and Senegal in the west; the offshore island of Madagascar is also represented in the collection. Specimens of material culture document regal monarchic traditions like Benin, Kamerun or Kaffa down to hunters and gatherers such as the pigmies in the central African rain forest and the San in the South African Kalahari. The old valuable stock is now to be supplemented by focussing on present-day developments in popular African culture and art. Austrian research work in Africa will also be documented by including objects collected on such occasions.
Valuable antiques are the Afro-Portuguese ivory carvings which date from Archduke Ferdinand II of Tyrol's "art cabinet" at Ambras Castle and which constitute the most ancient pieces of the collection. The Museum owns three saltcellars, carved horns and several 15th and 16th century spoons, performed in a very fragile technique.
The chalice-like lidded vessels were used as decorative saltcellars at the Renaissance courts in Europe. Manufactured in Africa as commission pieces they reflect European models. The difference lies in figurative additions, often based on European themes with biblical and heraldic motives.
|Feathers have been knotted into a wickerwork made of plant fibre ropes. The eyes are mother-of-pearl slices into which tiny wooden balls have been inserted; the mouth is formed by two rows of dogs' teeth. The bust represents a Hawaiian god of war, kukailimoku.|
figures from Tonga, carved from a whale tooth, are contained in several
collections. They were worn a jewelry, maybe as amulets round the neck.
The figure depicted here has been pierced in the back of the head and
could have served the same purpose.
mask is a male face, possibly representing death. Originally it seems to
have had fur eyebrows and chin-beard stripes. The holes on the edge were
pierced for the fixation of ropes (for hanging or wearing purposes).
unique piece represents the transition phase between cedar bast capes and
the famous chilkat blankets. The design combines the traditional geometric
style with the formline tradition in painting and carving.
African masks from Known Collections
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Tribal Arts of Africa
Author: Jean-Baptiste Bacquart
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mail David Norden phone +32 3 227.35.40