Lot: 35

Rare buffalo mask "nyati" ("nyatti" / "nyadi") of the "koso-isango" society

Cameroon, Duala

Provenance Size Hammer price
Hans Ziemann (1865-1939), Berlin, Germany
Linden-Museum Stuttgart, Germany
Ludwig Bretschneider, Munich, Germany (1971)
Munich Private Collection

Hans Ziemann (1865-1939) joined the Schutztruppe for Cameroon in 1908, where he worked as head of the civilian and military medical services. After leaving the colonial service in 1912, he returned to Berlin and dedicated his life to tropical medicine research.
H: 36.4 inch 4200 EUR

wood, eye-catching painting in strong European colours (black, red, white), labelled in two places: "35431 Kamerun Duala Ziemann", old repair (left horn)

This mask is a rare example of a mask tradition that was abandoned a long time ago.

Regarding a "nyati" mask from the holdings of the Linden-Museum Stuttgart, which was collected by Achenbach in 1905 (cf. African Arts IX,1,1975, p. 8) the collector reported the following: "At the dances...of the "koso" secret society, a number of members put on such masks and jumped among the spectators, seeking to draw troublemakers and other inattentive persons by means of the metal tongue attached to the mouth of the mask" (Gardi, 1994, p. 43).

This metal tongue is still present on a "nyati" mask acquired in 1888, which is now in the holdings of the Museum Fünf Kontinente in Munich (cf. AHDRC 0186064).


Gardi, Bernhard, Kunst in Kamerun, Basel 1994, p. 43