Beembe Mask
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Beembe (Southern Congo ) or Tanzania mask from the Private African and Oceanic Art Collection of Harrison Eiteljorg

most objects from this collection are today in the Indianapolis collection



African carved wooden mask, probably Tanzania. Provenance: from the estate of Harrison Eiteljorg.

The Beembe live north of the Zaire River in the Congo (Brazzaville) on a plateau that rises above the Niari River.

The Beembe have been closely linked to the Kingdom of the Kongo since at least the 15th century. Although there are numerous theories about their origin, it seems very possible that they arrived in the region in two separate migrations: some had lived in the region since before 1485, while others split from the Kongo at the time of a battle with the Portuguese in 1665.

Their neighbors to the north are the Teke, who were the original inhabitants of the Dondo Plateau. The Beembe are matrilineal and polygamous.

The only system of political authority is the elected religious chief, mfumu mpu, who is responsible for honoring the spirits of the ancestors and controls the family nature spirits nkisi.

As he exercises political power, he is advised by a council of lineage elders (bambuta).

The Beembe honor both the spirits of their ancestors and nature spirits.

Power figures are carved to embody nkisi, or spirits that fight witchcraft. The relics of important ancestors are kept in small, carved figures or are wrapped in cloth. There are healing cults called Mpodi, Ngombo, and Nkondi.

This is a fine Beembe mask, that has been used during masquerades. Very few masks of this type are known.


Bibliography about the Beembe:

info source of the description on this page : uiowa

Les naissances d'une societe: Espace et historicite chez les Beembe du Congo (Collections Memoires) (French Edition) ~ Georges Dupré

Mr. Eiteljorg has his own Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art

Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art

About .

Most of the African Art he collected are now in the The Eiteljorg Gallery of African Art, in the Indianapolis Museum of Art:

Eiteljorg Gallery of African Art, in the Indianapolis Museum of Art

African carved wooden mask, Bembe tribe.

Only a handful Beembe masks are known, this is one of them.

Provenance: from the estate of Harrison Eiteljorg.

Price: 4,000€

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African carved wooden mask, Beembe tribe. Pronounced beard, evident coiffure line. Provenance: from the estate of Harrison Eiteljorg. 10 3/4"H x 7 3/4"W.  28,5 cmH X 19,8 cmW  White Painted collectors number inside the Beembe mask:  XE 79.3

Eiteljorg, Harrison (1903-1997)

       Coll. Indianapolis-Indiana. Collector of Modern paintings and sculptures, who bought a Dogon staff to "separate" two paintings, this was the start for a large African Art collection.

Expo Cat.: African Art from the Harrison Eiteljorg Collection. Indianapolis Museum of Art 14 April, 23 May, 1976. Founder of the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in 1989.

from the Who is Who in African Art

In the catalogue written by Theodore Celenko Mr.Eiteljorg says, " My first acquisition of African Art was made years ago when I purchased a handsome Dogon Staff and a simple male figure to complement a collection of modern paintings and sculptures. Over the years these first acquisitions have grown a sizable collection. I have found in African art a genuine thrill and excitement that comes with the knowledge that each mask, figure or artifact was made and used in a spiritual or religious ceemony and that each carved door, house post, chair or stool had ritual meaning. Indeed, the only true authentic African Art is that which was actually used for ceemonial purposes. As I see it, the sqimple primitive beauty of African art becomes living art associated with native habits, colorful rituals and traditions dating back through the centuries" April 14 -May 30 1976 . Review of exhibition in African Arts, Vol. 10, No. 1 (Oct., 1976), p. 80


Price: 4,000 €

Let me know if you want to have this very seldom Beembe mask in your collection. The last 20 years I have seen many little Beembe figures, but Beembe masks NONE, this is the first one I see passing through my hands, guess it will be the last . his mask should belong to a Museum.


Price: sold

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BEEMBE Mask information request sold



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