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Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Painting of the Month (36) Jan '13: Masque Blanc from Gabon

White Mask from Gabon, Africa
African art is extremely diverse and can hardly be described in a few sentences but this white mask made in Gabon (date uncertain, probably 19th century) is something specific to that country. There is a strong ritualistic tradition of mask-making there where they are used for many ceremonial occasions such as births, deaths and marriages.
This white mask is typical of those made by the Punu people of southern Gabon. It is made of wood (although they are often made of 'precious' metals such as copper). It is covered in pigment derived from white clay and the face, especially the half-closed eyes, is meant to evoke a meditative female serenity. The mask, however, would generally be worn by a male dancer in a ceremony. 
The influence of African art on major European art is often overlooked but look at this detail from a painting by Pablo Picasso!
Nude by Pablo Picasso 1907


Anonymous said...

From the illustrious pen of the fabulous Sir Tom Eagerly:
You know Bazza, when I awoke from some drunken slumber the other day I turned around in bed and saw Lady Eagerly looking at me with that exact expression. I can tell you dear boy that I woke up pretty quickly after that shock!

bazza said...

Sir Tom! I thought you'd shuffled off this mortal coil. Welcome back from wherever you've been.
I am sure Lady Eagerly would have equally shocked at the sight of you in the morning.....

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

I had a nun in grammar school who bore a resemblance to that mask.

bazza said...

Arleen, you have my sympathy! But, on the other hand, she may have been inwardly serene.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

I don' think so.

David said...

Hi bazza,
Very interesting, especially the obvious influence of such things on European art, as shown in the Picasso painting.
And, I could use some of that inward serenity myself!
Very Best Wishes, bazza,

Patrycja (photoopassion) said...

Very cool blog. Interesting posts. ;)
Nice atmosphere guests with you here on the blog. ;]
Yours. Have a nice day. !

Follow me on facebook fanpage and blog
I'm very concerned about this, please. :)

Optimistic Existentialist said...

This is fascinating art. I went to a museum once that exhibited mainly African Art and I found it so interesting!!

bazza said...

David: Would you want the serenity if that face came with it? :)

bazza said...

Patrycja: Welcome. Thanks for your comment. Your have some wonderful photography on your Blog!

bazza said...

Optimistic Existentialist: Hello Keith, thanks for visiting. I enjoyed your 10 favourite places to visit. I have been to some of them and I live in London (I also have a cousin who lives over in Lexington Kentucky!)
I share your fascination with African art.