Lot: 118

Female dance headdress "d'mba"

Guinea, Baga

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
Said to have been bought in Paris in 1950
Charles Wentinck, Saumane, France
Morat-Institut für Kunst- und Kunstwissenschaft, Freiburg i. B., Germany
Adrian Schlag, Brussels, Belgium
Alfons Bermel, Berlin, Germany (2006)
Jean-Hugues Rinck, Haguenau, France
H: 52.4 inch;
L: 17.3 inch
25000 EUR / 50000 EUR

wood, rest. (nose), labelled "A-001" This type of colossal wooden headdress in the form of a female bust on four legs is widely acknowledged as one of the most outstanding works of African art. "D'mba" is the Baga Sitemu name for the headdress normally called "nimba" in the literature. The Pukur name is "yamban". "D'mba" is an abstraction of the ideal of the female role in Baga society. She is honored as the universal mother and is the vision of woman at the zenith of her power, beauty, and affective presence. "D'mba's" flat, pendant breasts are a symbol of motherhood and reveal the selfless dedication with which she has nursed numerous children to adulthood. Although "d'mba" is not a spiritual being in the Baga sense of the term, nor a deity, she is a being of undeniable spiritual power. The Baga conceive of "D'mba" as a servant of sorts inspiring young women with the strength to bear children and raise them to adulthood, inspiring young men to cooperative excellence in agriculture, and inspiring the ancestors to contribute toward the continuance of community well-being. During performances, the massive headdress is worn with a costume of raffia and cloth. In earlier times, "d'mba" mask dances were performed at least twice a year, at the time of planting and at harvest time. "D'mba" also appeared on festive occasions such as weddings, births and funerals and is said to have been danced in honor of special guests.


Lamp, Frederick, Art of the Baga, New York 1996, p. 155 ff.