Baga Nimba (D'mba) headdress valued at $350,000

A Baga Nimba (D'mba) wooden headdress is valued at $250,000-350,000 ahead of a sale of tribal art at Minerva Gallery in Florida on July 25.

The Baga people originate from Western Guinea and are well known for their skill as carvers.

The D'mba represents an idealised form of womanhood, usually characterised as an older woman who has borne a number of children.

Baga Nimba mask
The Baga people of Guinea are well known for their skill in carving

It relates particularly to fertility and agricultural rites and was worn by a dancer dressed in a costume made from raffia fibres. Usage of the masks dropped after the Baga came under the influence of Islam during the early 20th century.

More recently, the items have proved a powerful influence on many of the biggest western artists. Picasso owned a D'mba and is said to have modelled his iconic portraits of Marie Therese on its distinctive features.

This example features considerable patination, indicating a long history of ceremonial use.  

Last year a Baga D'mba mask achieved $305,000 at Bonhams New York.

A Songye standing male figure is likely to prove another highlight, with an estimate of $10,000-15,000.

Carvings by the Songye people are highly sought after by collectors, resulting in a burgeoning market. In November last year a four-horned community power figure from the Alan Stone collection made $2.1m at Sotheby's New York.

Another example from the Stone collection made $965,000 this May.

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