Masterfully crafted and balanced mask full of power, beauty and aggressiveness. Old hard and heavy wood with many traces of intensive use. Tapered holes. Crusty patina, at the inner and outer contact points matt shining.
This mask is likely to be one of the oldest existing Gbain masks. René A. Bravmann reports in his book "Islam and Tribal Art in West Africa" (1974) about only 3 Gbain masks outside the ritual context. One of these 3 masks resembles the one offered here stylistically so much that it probably comes from the same hand (see photo). That specific mask had been owned by Harry A. Franklin, Los Angeles, since 1967 and was auctioned at Sotheby's New York in April 1990 for approximately EUR 12,000 (LOT 93).
Bravemann’s mask description fits just perfectly to the one offered here that we quote from his book. "...it conforms fully to Gbain masks that I recorded in the field. In its style the mask approximates a Brain used at the Numu village of Brawhani (from there, according to Bravmann, the first masks of this type ever came, note Alex Dorn). The Franklin piece is carved in the shape of a bush cow with powerfully conceived yet gracefully curved horns. The secondary motif on the mask are two small four-legged animals which project from the each side of the helmet. ....Feathers and talismane attached to the snout of the mask a patina consisting of eggshells, mud, trace of animal blood as well as palm wine, are typically Gbain. The authenticity of this piece should not be questioned, given the inclusion of all these mentioned features."