ngbaka 'dagara' mask
country: democratic republic of congo
material: wood, pigment
size: 11" (29.2 cm)
provenace: private USA estate collection.
note: stand not included
Dagara style Ngbaka mask worn at the end to initiation ceremonies with a full body costume, It is danced by the leader of the ‘Gaza’ association who guides the initiates back to the village as full fledged adults after their initiation is complete.
This oval 'Dagara-mask' is carved from light-coloured, lightweight wood. It has a concave, inwardly curving face under the grooved lines framing the face. The nose bears an scarification ridges along the bridge. The small mouth is open showing two fangs. The wide rim of the mask and the nasal bridge are of dark brown colour. White kaolin coating covers the concave face area with a pinkish clay pigment in the eyebrows, under the eyes and around the ridge framing the face .
The Ngbaka arrived on the Gemena Plateau in 1920. They migrated from the area around Lake Chad to the north with the Manja and Gbaya peoples. Throughout their travels they encountered numerous peoples who influenced their direction. It is known that the Ngbaka had contact with the Mabo at the Lua-Dekere River and with the Mono at the Bembe and Lubia Rivers. Although they share many cultural similarities with their neighbors, the Gbaya, they speak slightly different languages and consider themselves separate peoples. There is constant contact between them and their other neighbors the Ngbandi and Ngombe, yet there is often conflict between them over land ownership.