Africa

Round Teke mask from Africa

Wikipedia has this to say: The Teke people, or Bateke also known as the Tyo or Tio, are a Bantu Central African ethnic group that speak the Teke languages. Its population is situated mainly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo, with a minority in Gabon.

The economy of the Teke is mainly based on farming maize, millet and tobacco, but the Teke are also hunters, skilled fishermen and traders. The Teke sometimes chose blacksmiths as chiefs. The blacksmiths were important in the community and this occupation was passed down from father to son. In terms of life of the Teke, the village chief was chosen as religious leader, he was the most important tribal member and he would keep all the potions and spiritual bones that would be used in traditional ceremonies to speak to the spirits and rule safety over his people.

Teke masks are mainly used in traditional dancing ceremonies such as wedding, funeral and initiation ceremonies of young men entering adult hood. The mask is also used as a social and political identifier of social structure within a tribe or family. The Teke people are well known for their Teke masks, which are round flat disk-like wooden masks that have abstract patterns and geometric motifs with horizontal lines that are painted in earthly colors, mainly dark blue, blacks, browns and clays. The traditional Teke masks all have triangle shaped noses. The masks have narrow eye slits to enable the masker to see without being seen. They have holes pierced along the edge for the attachment of a woven raffia dress with feathers and fibers. The mask is held in place with a bite bar at the back that the wearer holds in his teeth. The dress would add to the mask’s costume and conceal the wearer.

Bob Ibold says: I would think this beautiful mask comes from an important museum and would be worth thousands of dollars. Very rarely is an authentic artifact found at a yard sale, thrift store or estate sale. Only people who have done some research and have plenty of spare time should shop that way. 1685, A+

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