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3080 Tervuren - Belgium
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Treasure of the month

Postage stamp design, 1948


Zooanthromorphic Luba mask from the ‘Indigenous art’ series, 1948

Based on: a gouache by G. Cambron from a collection piece at the RMCA. Red pass for print, 100F, Ruanda Urundi.
Proof: the 'Institut de gravure et d’impression de papiers-valeurs de Paris'
Collection: RMCA Tervuren, HO.1963.73.11.70.


A set of treasures of African art from the collection of the Museum for Central Africa inspired a series of stamps issued for the Belgian Congo in 1947. It includes the Luba buffalo mask, the statuette of Bope Kena, the Chokwe headstaff, the Moshambwooy mask and a Luba kneeling cup carrier. This theme that the Colonial Office picked up at the time, was certainly not unfamiliar to the growing public interest in African art.

By decision of the Minister of Colonies, the projected series named "Indigenous Art" was subjected to a contest “opened to Belgian and colonial artists" in 1946. Each artist had to provide five studies in ink, five times the final size of the stamp, to be later engraved on copper plates. Submissions were anonymous and presented to a jury including the Minister of Colonies, administrative authorities, artists, and a representative of the Belgian Philatelic Society.
The competition was a real success with 35 contestants vying for the winning. Artist Ghislaine Cambron (°1923) won the contest and was asked to sketch some additional drawings.

Several issues followed from 1947 to 1949. The stamps remained valid until the independence of the Belgian Congo and Ruanda Urundi.

The RMCA retains in its postal history collection part of the iconographic archives of the competition, like watercolors of the items, test prints leaving in blank their silhouette, and the final stamp.

 



 

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