Mask (bikeghe)

Late 19th to early 20th century
Artist Unidentified

Object Place: Middle Ogowe River area, Gabon


48.26 cm (19 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Wood, pigment

Not On View


Africa and Oceania



Masks such as this one appeared in Fang initiations and at other ceremonial occasions largely concerned with community crisis and protection. Some of these masks are elongated, others have two or four faces. Both types frequently show white, heart-shaped faces framed by arching brows. This large mask with variegated coloring is called bikeghe and is said to represent a part-human, part-animal force responsible for ensuring social order. Its aggressive projecting brow and sharp nose may have been intended to induce respect or fright.


By 1982, Eduardo Uhart, Paris [see note]. June 18, 1986, sold by Pace Primitive and Ancient Art, New York (stock no. 51-7995), to William and Bertha Teel, Marblehead, MA; 1991, year-end gift of William and Bertha Teel to the MFA. (Accession Date: January 22, 1992)

NOTE: Yale Van Rijn Archive of African Art, no. 0055543.

Credit Line

Gift of William E. and Bertha L. Teel