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African Art / Works from the Swiss collection of Walter Schwab

Wednesday 13 October 2021, 05:00 PM • Milan


DJIMINI Ivory Coast


€ 26.000 - 30.000

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h 33,5 cm
Hardwood with a glossy black glaze, with red, white and blue decorations.
This small ethnic group which lives in the north-east of Ivory Coast, on its border with Ghana, is culturally linked to the Senufo, but their masks represent an incredibly rare body of work in the African artistic portfolio.Produced by Djimini sculptors, they are essentially dance masks that take inspiration from the common Senufo Kpelié masks, from which they lifted several stylistic similarities.Here, this is particularly evident in the fine engraving of the eyes, the long nose, the mouth with small, protruding lips and the appendages on the sides of the face. The horizontal markings which outline the mouth can also be found on many Senufo masks.The asymmetrical markings on the cheeks are also very interesting, typical of Djimini masks. The keloid scar in the middle of the brow represents the symbol of the female sex. The hairstyle is formed of thick tufts of hair on the sides of the head, adorned with small, coloured braids. Similarly to other masks from this group, the surface of the wood is thoroughly polished and painted with a polychrome decoration, which covers it with red, white and blue pigments. On the back, there are holes that a cloak would be attached to. The erosion of the wood indicates signs of prolonged use.


Private collection (2001);


FAGG WILLIAM & PLASS MARGARET "African Sculpture" London 1964, pag. 150 (10);
GOY BERTRAND “Cote d’Ivoire - Premieres regards sur la sculpture - 1850/1935” Paris 2012, pag. 34 - 36 (998);
GOLDWATER ROBERT “Senufo sculpture from West Africa” New York 1964, fig.34 (1081);
GUY LOUDMER “Arts Primitifs” Paris Hotel Drouot auction on 14 May 1990;
SOTHEBY’S “Collection Brian et Diane Leyden: Art Bété et Sénufo” Paris auction on 5 December 2007, lot 10 (625)SOTHEBY’S “Collection Marceau Riviére” Paris, auction on 18 and 19 June 2019;
, lot 94 (1047);
In 1898, Richard Austin Freemen, an English doctor, following a colonial mission to west Africa with other colleagues, explored the territories inside the village of Bondoukou located in the north-east of Ivory Coast, on its borders with the Gold Coast, or modern-day Ghana. This vast expanse of land was inhabited by the Abron, Bondoukoi and Djimini groups. In Abron, he attended a masked ceremony organised by the locals in his honour and, as a memento, crafted the designs of two masks with large buffalo horns that he saw dance. These are examples of the Nafana Bedou. Furthermore, during his expedition, he had the chance in 1898 to take a photograph of a Djimini mask, which is perhaps the first photograph we have of one. This mask bears all the stylistic hallmarks that Djimini sculptors have passed down in the production of their masks (Goy, pag. 36, ill. 19). Today, this belongs to the collections of the British Museum in London.

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Condition report

To request a Condition Report, please contact The department will provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Please note that what Finarte declares with respect to the state of conservation of the objects corresponds only to a qualified opinion and that we are not professional conservators or restorers. We urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. We always suggest prospective buyers to inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition during the exhibition days as indicated in the catalog.