Guinea Coast Baga mask to lead African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian sale

A Baga mask from the Guinea Coast valued at $400,000-600,000 will headline an auction of African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian art at Bonhams New York on November 14.

The mask represents the idea of a Dumba, or beautiful mother, and is featured along with a stand that alludes to the female form.

It was used in fertility rituals and ceremonial events and would have been worn by a dancer, while his body would have been covered in raffia fibre.

Duma Baga mask
The mask is constructed from wood, brass and metal

Masks featured heavily in Baga culture, although the tradition became less widespread with the arrival of Islam on the islands.

A rare bird-shaped pestle pommel from the highlands of Papua New Guinea will be another highlight of the sale.

Dating to 4,000-1,000 BC, the pestle is one of the earliest known works of Oceanic art ever to come to auction. This incredible rarity is reflected in its valuation of $15,000-20,000.

Fredric Backlar, Bonhams' consulting specialist in African, Oceanic & pre-Columbian art, commented: "It's simply extraordinary to offer such an important ritualistic work of art by early humans, sculpted thousands and thousands of years ago.

"Birds were and still are considered one of, if not the most, important symbolic images in the Pacific Islands. This could be one of the earliest images of a bird ever to come to auction."

The auction will feature artefacts from across Africa, Oceania and South America.

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