Lot: 290

98th Auction

Female mask "La belle Madeleine"

D. R. Congo, Luba / Zela

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
Hilde & Lavuun Quackelbeen, Sint-Martens-Latem, Belgium H: 14.6 inch 1500 EUR
plus 23 % commission, VAT, transport and insurance

wood, kaolin, red and black paint,

According to Felix, these masks are called "La belle Madeleine" by the locals and are supposed to embody a Catholic nun or else "Mama Maria", the Virgin Mary herself. Like the female ancestor spirit masks, "La belle Madeleine" is an idealised representation of a woman.

The arrival of Christian missionaries and nuns proves that this exotic-looking mask form could only have been developed in the last quarter of the 19th century. It is possible that these new icons of women replaced older images of idealised women.

Felix, Marc L., Beauty and the beasts, Brussels 2003, p. 98 ff.