Tetela tribal mask, €16,000 (£13,675) at Lempertz.

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On January 31 the bidders were somewhat choosy but were willing to go considerably above the guides when the conditions were right. A case in point was a Tetela mask from the Congo which belongs to an exclusive group. So far, only eight such masks have been identified.

The Tetela (sometimes Batetela) belong to several ethnic groups that make up the people of the Mongo tribe who live in the rainforests of what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. The exact function of such masks in the tribal rituals has still to be ascertained.

The 12in (31cm) high mask on offer bore a great resemblance to an example in the famous Barbier-Mueller Collection in Geneva.

The mask up for auction came from the collection of the Brussels dealer Jean-Pierre Jernander, who died in 2015. It now found a new owner for €16,000 (£13,675), exactly four times the guide.

Ancestral spirit


Korwar figure, €42,000 (£35,900) at Lempertz.

The high point of the sale came right at the end - the last lot brought the best price of the day.

This was an ancestor figure from the Cenderawasih Bay region of north-western New Guinea. According to tradition, such seated korwar figures embodied the spirit of a newly deceased ancestor and could be either consulted for advice or presented with offerings as a sign of respect.

This figure once belonged to the Dutch collector Henry Blekkink (1888-1953) who was born in Java and spent his first 10 years in the Dutch East Indies and later acquired a prime collection of korwar figures.

There were several contenders on hand when the bidding started at €15,000 but they could not compete with a commission bidder. The hammer fell at €42,000 (£35,900).