Guinea Coast Baga mask sells for $305,000 at Bonhams

A Baga mask from the Guinea Coast made $305,000 at Bonhams' African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian Art sale in New York on November 14.

The mask was used in tribal rituals in its native Africa and represents the D'mba, an abstract ideal of fertility and motherhood.

Duma Baga mask
D'mba dances are rarely performed today

The D'mba takes the form of a woman who has given birth to a number of children and brought them up to adulthood, and commonly displays braided hair and patterns of scarification.

A dancer would hold the mask above a covering of raffia fibre to perform in ceremonial events linked to agriculture and fertility.

Masks were a significant part of Baga culture until the arrival of Islam in the area in the 20th century.

A warrior's club from the Marquesas Islands sold for $93,750.

Marquesas Islands warrior club
  'U'us vary in size from 4.5 to 5 feet depending on the height of their owners

Situated in the Pacific, around 2,000 miles from Hawaii, the Marquesas Islands were one of the most significant sites of Polynesian civilisation.

The 'u'u, as the clubs are known, was carved in the 1840s and would have been used in battles between neighbouring tribes - which were frequent and bloody due to territorial issues arising from the size and remoteness of the islands.

The 'u'u were initially carved from ironwood, then buried in taro fields before being polished with coconut oil. Strands of human hair belonging to family members were wrapped around the handle to give protection.

The clubs were also status symbols, and feature elaborate carvings - with each side of the head carved to resemble a human face.

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