Q: I have a baga nimba mask (full size) and paperwork for it. It came from a prominent tribal collector in Boston. I am curious as to what you believe it would be valued around or if a market for this exists. Here are photos of the mask. Let me know your thoughts. Adam, 1634
A: The most important of the Baga art forms is the great mask, or Nimba. It represents the mother of fertility, protector of pregnant women, and presides over all agricultural ceremonies. The dancer, wearing a full raffia costume, carries the mask on his shoulders, looking out through holes between the breasts. In use, such masks rise more than eight feet above the ground; they often weigh more than eighty pounds. Most show a standardized pattern of facial scarification. We recommend “Art of The Baga: A Drama of Cultural Reinvention” by Frederick Lamp. (The Hamill Gallery)
These very large shoulder masks are great examples of sculpture. Serious collectors and museums always try to include one in their collection of African traditional art. The first two pictures are from Adam. Though their appearance is stunning, neither are authentic.