Textiles, Adornment & Personal Objects - African Art

Tikar Headdress Sold
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Throughout Africa traditional crowns and headgear employ feathers as integral decorative elements. Colorful, lightweight, and readily available, feathers are the perfect material to give scale, animation, and drama to hats and wigs. In this crown, worn by Tikar palace dancers in association with the beaded textile elephant masks, the tail feathers of the African grey parrot are arrayed at the tips of scores of cloth-encased reeds to command attention. There is absolutely no augmentation with dyed feathers. A single black feather from a standard-winged nightjar graces the center of the hat. It is an unusual feature not found in most such headdresses and is among the details that make this the most exceptional example of this type of crown I have seen. The crown collapses upon itself for storage with the tug of a leather loop in the center of the bottom woven-fiber portion of the headdress. 26" diameter. Price on request.
Tanzanian Sandals
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Wooden sandals were in use in East Africa throughout the 20th century. With the introduction of mass market footwear and the ubiquitous rubber thong, their popularity went into swift decline. This pair dates from before 1950 and, quite possibly, as early as 1910. The toe pegs with their onion-shaped finials are typical for Gogo sandals and show a strong Indo-Arab influence. Across the Indian Ocean, strikingly similar footwear was worn in Orissa. Pyro decoration is common in East and Southern African art. Here, the outer edge of the sandal has been outlined in this way with a circle inscribed in the middle. The design is bold and unusual. This pair would look great hung on a wall. 9" long, each. $700.
Kamba Beaded Apron
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Up until the beginning of the last century the wearing of goatskins by both men and women was widespread in rural Kenya. Over time fashions and materials evolved. What distinguished the diverse tribes was not so much the type of garment but the means of adornment, the colors chosen and the patterns employed. The Kamba were renowned for their wide and precisely patterned aprons dominated by small white beads. The use of chain and coins was widespread. The pennies adorning this fine example are from British East Africa and date from the 1920s through the mid 1950s. 7" high x 11.5" wide. Glass beads, cotton yarn, sisal, copper alloy chain, and vintage coins. Price on request.
Kamba Beaded Apron
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Up until the beginning of the last century the wearing of goatskins by both men and women was widespread in Kenya. What distinguished the diverse tribes was not so much the type of garment but the means of adornment, the colors chosen and the patterns and combinations of beadwork. The Kamba were renowned for their wide and precisely patterned aprons dominated by small white beads and the use of trade chain and coins. The pennies employed in this fine example are from British East Africa and date from the 1920s up through the mid 1950s. 11.45" x 14" long in Price on request
Eastern Nigerian Cache Sexe
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This beautiful and well worn cache sexe was collected by an American woman while teaching in a village in Nigeria's northeast in the early 60s. The teacher purchased this cache-sexe after having seen a dancer wearing it in a village ceremony. After returning to the United States, she hung it on the wall of her home until her death in 2007. Unfortunately, her executors did not know the name of the village or region where she had resided. 8.5" high x 12" wide. Glass beads, cowrie shells and cotton yarn with some indigenous repair. Price on request.
Mbudu Feathered Headdress
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A colorful example of a rarely seen headdress from the Mbudu of eastern Congo. The front panel of finely arranged beads is sewn to woven raffia cloth dotted with earth pigments and decorated with the feathers of bush fowl. The headdress is similar to the nkaka of the nearby Tabwa worn by celebrants of the bulumbu cult and to headbands of Luba mbudye diviners, which feature similar triangular motifs. 7" x 5". Price upon request.
Bamana Ngoni
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The West African lute or Ngoni comes in a variety of sizes. This smaller sized instrument is known as the kamale (young man's) ngoni popularized in the 1960s through the evolution of the Wousolou sound. However, this example predates that pop movement. It is similar to the Fulani hoddu, the Tuareg tahardant and other related instruments found across the Sahel. This family of instruments, characterized by a straight neck and a hollow wood or calabash body wrapped in drum-tight goat skin, is thought to be the ancestor of the American banjo. The beautiful old example on offer here no longer has strings but their absence allows us to see it as an expressive face. Considering its age the instrument is in excellent shape. There is some loss to the bindings in one corner of the back side although this in no way does detracts from the overall appearance. Mounted vertically on a custom wood and metal base. $850
Zulu Leg Ring Set
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This set is relatively lightweight as the individual bands were made by tightly winding fine wire onto a rod then slipping the resultant coil free and fashioning it end-to-end into a loop with a hollow core. The craftsmanship here is uniformly excellent. The patina shows years of use and exposure. Mounted on a custom base. 12" long; $650. See also Zulu arm rings.
Bijogo Ceremonial Bracelet
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It seems unfair to call this massive carving a bracelet. It's so large that one edge has been deliberately carved concave to allow it to be worn more comfortably against their wearer's side. The object was discovered some years ago in a collection of Bijogo ceremonial regalia, mostly dance crests. It it adze carved, very dry and bears trays of white pigment. 12" diameter on a custom base. $1200
Zulu Headdress
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A variety of hats and headdresses are worn by Zulu women and traditional ceremonies and gatherings. Circular, flat-topped hats made from a variety of materials including cotton and occasionally human hair are among the best known. Bundles of sweet grass, bush fiber or washed rags are often used to fill the hat out and give it shape. The headdress illustrated here is a rare variation of the flat topped hair hat. The shape and materials are the same: human hair over a circle of recycled cloth, red ochre, animal fat and fiber stuffing. However, the top is pillowed and in profile there are no edges and the sides are convex. 12" diameter. Mounted at a jaunty angle on a custom stand. Price on request
Yoruba Priest's Hat
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The felt fez was introduced into Nigeria through trade with the Arab north. Here an natural, undyed fez of Nigerian manufacture has been heavily decorated with cowrie shells. Cowries were recognized early on by humanity of shells of value. They are uniform, can be easily modified for stringing and they have anthropomorphic qualities as they call to mind the human eye and the female sex. For thousands of years cowries were traded around the world. They adorned the wealthy and powerful. They decorated masks and were pasted into the eyes of figurative carvings. In this hat they announce the special status of its wearer as someone linked to history and the mystical power of nature. 8" Price on request
Lugbara Baby Cover
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The Lugbara live in western Uganda, close to the equator. The sun is strong and region experiences frequent downpours during its two rainy seasons. Like most African societies Lugbara women carry their infants on their backs while working in the fields and performing their near constant chores. To protect them from the elements, Lugbara women traditionally covered their infants with woven hoods such as this, tucking the broad flat end into the wrappers that bound their babies tight against them. A different variety of hood also exists without the top-hat finial. These are lighter in color and lack the application of brownish resin that make these hoods particularly water resistant. Neither form have ever been in great supply but the ones with the finial appear to be substantially older. The scoop-like form may be related to rain-gear employed by some groups of forest dwelling pygmies who live in the vicinity: a folding of large fronds that makes a head to waist hood that stays in place through gravity and leaves the hands free. A nearly identical example is illustrated in Marc Ginzberg's "African Forms". 20" long, 10" wide", price on request
Lugbara Doll
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I have only ever seen one other example of this curious object which I can only imagine must be a doll. It consists of a heavily decorated miniature basketry hood identical in form, weave and material to one of two types of baby covers employed by the Lugbara of western Uganda. It was purchased in a lot with a variety of vintage ethnographic objects readily identifiable as of Ugandan origin. The coins adorning the hood's perimeter identify themselves as British East African pennies of the 1950s. The long strands of beads appear intended to facilitate the carriage of the hood on a girl's back or shoulder. This is not to say that this beautiful piece was merely a toy; it may well have been worn by adolescents during a rite of passage, by adult women hoping to conceive or for any of the many purposes and reasons that dolls were and are employed in traditional African societies. The main part is 7" x 4" with an over all length of 19". Mounted, price on request.
Tiv Pipe In The Form Of A Monkey
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A great variety of fanciful well used pipes were once in wide use among the Tiv of Nigeria. Figurative elements ranged from male sexual imagery to zoomorphic heads, references to firearms and fanciful geometric details all within a basic functional form. This lovely example features a sweetly abstract simian head with steel tack eyes as the masthead to an ergonomic masterpiece of counterbalanced curves, wood and steel elements. The complex geometric carving on the bottom is a bit of a mystery. It is plainly integral to the over all design as its rich patination matches that of the whole, but its meaning is obscure. 14.5" long; custom base. Price on request.
Tiv Pipe In The Form Of A Tortoise
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A great variety of fanciful well used pipes were once in wide use among the Tiv of Nigeria. Figurative elements ranged from male sexual imagery to zoomorphic heads, references to wealth, virility and status and fanciful geometric details all within a basic functional form. Among my favorites was a pipe (sold many years ago) in the form of a rifle. The stem doubled as the rifle's barrel so that in effect the smoker placed gun to mouth with every puff. This is the only example I have found of a pipe celebrating a tortoise- an otherwise frequently encountered symbol in African art for earthbound fortitude, durability and humility. The pipe is also unique in that it is self supporting. Where as most pipes must be held while lit this highly sculptural example can be put down on the ground or on a table and allowed to smolder without any chance of the bowl spilling its contents. Carved from a hard well patinated wood with a wrought iron stem. 14" tall; unmounted. Price on request.
Kirdi Necklace Or Belt
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Brass beads made by the Vere and other Cross River people have been traded across the region for centuries along with European glass beads and cowrie shells from the coast. Here brass beads alone are strung on leather. The beads are ancient and the leather is stiff and dry. While the arrangement may well have been worn as a belt I have opted to mount it vertically to maximize its visually impact. First half of the 20th century. Leather, well-worn brass beads and leather. About 12" tall. Price on request.
Cenutry Old Ankole Sandals
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The American Museum of Natural History has three individual sandals(not pairs) acquired in 1910 which match up closely with this pair. Untanned animal hide appears to have been soaked in water, then pressed into a form and dried in order to shape these sandal. They were then apparently incised and painted or dyed. The sandals were ultimately outfitted with hide straps. These very handsome sandals were discovered in colonial era ethnographic collection. 10" in length. They be mounted in a variety of ways. Inclusive price available on request.
Iraqw Ceremonial Skirt
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The Iraqw are a farming people in northern Tanzania. They are one of a few Cushitic cultures in the region, with a language unrelated to any other in Tanzania. Girls reportedly fabricate leather skirts for themselves during a period of seclusion prior to marriage, decorating them with beads and, on occasion, recycled materials such as discarded keys and other bright odds and ends. However, adult women are also known to participate in the beading of skirts and will wear them along with younger members of the community on ceremonial occasions. The meanings ascribed to the diverse beading patterns vary from beader to beader. A zigzagging line may be described as a river, or the path of life or even the "ups and downs of marriage." A circle is the sun or the home. There are two types of skirt: pull on skirts (such as this beautiful example) and the better known wrap skirts. The former are rarely seen in western collections. 20th century. 27" radius. Unmounted. Price on request.
Stunning Iraqw Skirt
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The Iraqw are a farming people in northern Tanzania. They are one of a few Cushitic cultures in the region, with a language unrelated to any other in Tanzania. Girls reportedly fabricate leather skirts for themselves during a period of seclusion prior to marriage, decorating them with beads and, on occasion, recycled materials such as discarded keys and other bright odds and ends. However, adult women are also known to participate in the beading of skirts and will wear them along with younger members of the community on ceremonial occasions. The meanings ascribed to the diverse beading patterns vary from beader to beader. A zigzagging line may be described as a river, or the path of life or even the "ups and downs of marriage." A circle is the sun or the home. There are two types of skirt: pull on skirts and the better known wrap skirts, splended ly represented here. The former are rarely seen in western collections. 27" radius. Unmounted. Price on request.
A Vintage Yoruba Adire Cloth
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A classic adire (indigo resist) in the "jubilee" pattern dating from the 1960s or 70s. High quality adire is no longer being produced. The materials and time involved are costly. White areas are first laid out with cassava starch before the cloth is immersed. The underlying cloth in this case is cotton damask with its own, integral floral pattern in spaced bands of white on white thread. One of these bands is evident in the blue "shadow" passing through one of the four-petal elements in the middle of the fabric. According to Duncan Clark (adireafricantextiles.com), the "jubilee" pattern was debuted in 1935 for the anniversary celebration of colonial Britain's George V and Queen Mary. It remained among the most popular adire patterns for generations. Price and dimensions on request.
Bamana Hunter's Tunic
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In much of the Sahel, the region south of the Sahara and north of the West African forest belt, hunting was vitally important both economically and culturally. Many Sahelian peoples had hunting-specific costumes as well as tribally distinct hunting regalia including special charms, quivers, hats, game bags and whistles. Tunics were often, although not always, adorned with amulets some of which were accumulated over time. This example is beautifully spare with only a handful of amulets, but rich in texture. Its dark brown color is the result of it having been soaked in a dye derived from a combination of cola nuts and propitious roots and leaves fermented in a clay pot. The process was intended to provide physical camouflage as well as metaphysical protection and good fortune. Collected in the early 1990's; 26" x 20" unmounted. Price on request.
West African Hunter's Jacket With Islamic Amulets.
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This elegant hunter's tunic is from the Burkina Faso or northern Ghana. It was originally acquired in the early 90's. The region was historically rich in game. Hunting was both culturally and economically important to the region's inhabitants. Even today many of the traditional ceremonies employ regalia that reference ritual hunting. For purposes of personal protection and good fortune Islamicized amulets were sewn to the front and back of the tunic. This lovely tunic is in excellent condition for its age. 27" x 20". Price on request.
Headdress Published In
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Tiered hats woven from raffia or other vegetal fiber were worn by Ekonda chiefs on important occasions. Botolo come in a variety of forms with projections that may be horizontal or angle upwards. Some have tiers of equal diameter. Others become smaller each level upwards. Some are coated with plant resins, while others(such as this fine example) are left as pure basketry as in this example. This botolo was exhibited in multiple American museums over the course of three years and was published in the excellent book by the same name: "Grass Roots: African Origins of an American Art". 12.5" tall; 17" on its base. Price on request
Bamana Or Mandingo Hunter's Cap
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A lovely cap that matches well with the similarly colored hunter's jacket on this site. They were acquired at the same time and may have traveled far together, but it's hard to say if they were always together. A very unusual item piece of headgear not often seen in African hat collections. About 6" tall. Price on request
Mossi Indigo Resist Dyed Wrapper
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For centuries West Africans harvested wild and domestic cotton, silk and other fibers, spun them into yarn and wove that yarn into cloth. Along the way the yarn or cloth could be dyed in a variety of ways using myriad ingredients botanical, mineral and more recently synthetic. The process used here is stitch-resist wherein the areas to be rendered neutral are sewn together while the cloth as a whole is submerged in a bath of indigo dye. The process continues today with ever fewer practitioners. Fine, older examples such as this with bold patterns and in good condition are increasingly scarce. Displayed on a stretcher this textile would beautify any room and compete well with modern paintings and sculpture. 43" x 71"; price on request
Mossi Indigo Resist Wrapper #2
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For centuries West Africans harvested wild and domestic cotton, silk and other fibers, spun them into yarn and wove that yarn into cloth. Along the way the yarn or cloth could be dyed in a variety of ways using myriad ingredients botanical, mineral and more recently synthetic. The process used here is stitch-resist wherein the areas to be rendered neutral are sewn together while the cloth as a whole is submerged in a bath of indigo dye. The process continues today with ever fewer practitioners. Fine, older examples such as this with bold patterns and in good condition are increasingly scarce. Displayed on a stretcher this textile would beautify any room and compete well with modern paintings and sculpture. 43" x 71"; price on request
Toposa Leather Skirt
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The Toposa speak a mutually intelligible language with the Turkana of northern Kenya. They tend herds of goats and cattle in the remote and largely road-less eastern frontier of South Sudan. The vibrant colors and liberated motifs of this skirt are typical of Toposa bead work. Decorated leather skirts were once the daily dress of Toposa women but more recently cloth skirts have largely replaced them except for ceremonial occasions such as weddings and initiations. 24" x 27". Price on request
Ingenius Kamba Necklace
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This 7" Kamba necklace to the colonial period or shortly thereafter. It was imported to the United States by Joe and Margaret Knopfelmacher who established Craft Caravan, a New York storefront and wholesaler specializing in ethnographic objects from West and East Africa. The collar is largely made of recycled aluminum, expertly hammered, shaped and incised into seamlessly interlocking halves. This style of necklaces is no longer worn among the Kamba. $350, unmounted
Kamba Neck Ring
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Even today beaded neck rings are daily attire for rural dwelling women of the Masai, Samburu and Rendile ethnic groups. In former times other Kenya peoples sported neck rings as well, typically employing palettes and motifs distinctly their own. For the Kamba the predominant colors were red and white. This piece dates to the mid 20th century and features a unique sliding clasp for ease of removal. In the collecting world the Kamba are justly famous for their carving and beading ingenuity, while in Kenya they are known for the potency of their magic... From the personal collection of Kenyan adornment of Joseph and Margaret Knopfelmacher, founders of Craft Caravan, established in the 1950's in New York City. $400, unmounted.
Kamba Beaded Necklace
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Based on experience in Africa and as a father of two girls I'm guessing that this somewhat unusual necklace was worn by an adolescent. It's size and level of detail seem perfect for a teenager wanting to look her best while standing out. The colors and pattern is typically Kamba as are the use of colonial era coins and commercial watch-chain. The necklace employs an ingenious wire catch for ease of removal whereby a wire is wound into a conical spiral to receive and seize its sharp and slightly curved counterpart. 11" long by 5" wide. Collected in the 1960's by an American ex-pat living in Kenya. $325, unmounted.
Kikuyu Belt
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A belt from the collection of a American citizen who lived and worked in Kenya and Ethiopia between 1963 and 1974. Aluminum wire, cotton, hide and old, worn sea shells. 28" long, used. Could be improved with some attention, but can be worn as is. $220
Kikukuyu Necklace
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Kikuyu necklaces of this type seem to go way back. Thick hide was cut to shape, pierced longitudinally and then sliced into thin segments that were immediately strung on a chord in sequence. The result is a necklace of perfectly matched segments without gaps that absorbs oils and sweat while glowing on the body like raised skin. 7" diameter. Field collected in the 1960's. $375
Classic Pokot Collar
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Like the Rendille, Samburu, Masai and other East African pastoralists, Pokot women traditionally wore neck rings as part of their daily assemblage. Distinctively, the Pokot fabricated their neck rings from segments of a variety of reed that grew in their lands. This example comes from the personal collection of Ithaca, New York native David Light who acquired in situ between 1965 and 1974. 10" in diameter, unmounted.
Rendille Earrings
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These earrings were acquired from an extensive ethnographic collection assembled prior to 1974. In 2014, on a field collecting trip to Kenya's Northern District I saw similar earrings worn by Rendille herdsmen of various ages. It is possible that the form is worn by neighboring people such as the Samburu. 1.5", $75
Turkana Earrings
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The Turkana live in the far Northeast of Kenya. They are one among a cluster of interrelated nomadic and semi-nomadic people living in the remote, dry lands at the Southern end of the Oromo valley and in adjoining pasture lands of South Sudan and Uganda. Among these groups adornments, styles of dress, headrests and other personal objects may be the same or roughly similar across ethnic lines. 2.5" in length. $60/pair
Early 20th C Luo Necklace
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Collected by Quaker missionaries in Kenya in the 1920's, and deaccessioned by a Midwest missionary museum in 2009 this collar dates to the turn of the century, if not earlier. Brass would ultimately replace iron as the preferred metal for adornment by 1960 aluminum replaced brass. Today it is hard to find brass or copper adornments even in remote areas of the country. This collar features both iron wire and European factory made watch chain both common trade goods from the early days of British colonization of East Africa. 7" diameter, provided with a base $575
Pair Of Kikuyy Beaded Armlets
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Collected in the mid 70's, ex NY collection, this beautiful pair of cuffs is beaded on fine steel wire and as a result maintains its shape off the arm. A rare find. $375/pair
Tuareg Ostrich Egg Talisman
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Since ancient times ostrich shells have been of great spiritual and commercial value. Along with ostrich plumes they were exported from the continent and traded across the Mediterranean as items not only of beauty and wonder but as objects with an aura of purity and goodness, imbued with protective and healing powers. In his 16th century painting, "Adoration of the Maggi" Albrecht Durer depicted the African king arriving at the holy manger with a ostrich egg offering while excavations of ancient Berber graves in north Africa have revealed caches of whole shells. To this day the minarets of classic Malian mosques have ostrich shells skewered on spikes atop their minarets and balustrades as emblems of purity and to ward of evil. Here an ostrich egg has been extensively decorated in the Tuareg fashion with dyed and cut leather and fashioned with a strap so that it may hang within the family tent. The idea would have been to add an element of beauty to the household while literally warding off the evil eye, a notion which underlines the Tuareg connection to their Berber cousins. Today the Niger's indigenous red-necked ostrich, the species from which this talisman was fashioned in the 1960s, is essentially extinct in the wild. Unrest and uncontrolled hunting including from the vindictive slaughter of hundreds of birds at the onset of a Tuareg rebellion in the 1990s, has decimated their numbers in the Sahara. Ex private US collection. Price on request.
Turkana Lip Ornament
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Like the piercing of ears lip piercing is an ancient tradition. Caches of stone lip plugs and pins have been uncovered in regions of the Sahara that have not supported human habitation for millennia. The Turkana are renowned for their elaborate, age, sex and status-specific dress and adornment. Both men and women are known to wear labrets. In the distant past these were usually ivory but with the introduction of aluminum fencing materials, auto parts and cook wear the light weight, meltable and malleable metal became the material of choice. Acquired in the 1990s. The Turkana live in a remote region of northern Kenya still poorly served by roads. Price on request
Kirdi Lip Ornaments
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The term "Kirdi" derives from the Kanuri word for heathen and refers to the more than half dozen un-Islamicized ethnic groups in the rugged northern frontier between Cameroon and Nigeria. Such groups have been deeply affected by jihadist activities not only in recent years but historically as well. It is because of such persecution that they occupy rugged mountainous territory difficult to reach even on foot. About 1" in diameter. Well patinated bronze. $70 each
Turkana Lip Ornament
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Like the piercing of ears, lip piercing is an ancient tradition. Caches of stone lip plugs and pins have been uncovered in regions of the Sahara that have not supported human habitation for millennia. The Turkana are renowned for their elaborate, age, sex and status-specific dress and adornment. Both men and women are known to wear labrets. In the distant past such adornments were usually ivory but with the introduction of aluminum fencing materials, auto parts and cook wear the bright, light weight, meltable and malleable metal became the material of choice. The Turkana live in a remote region of northern Kenya still poorly served by roads. Ex collection David Light, acquired during the 1960's and 70's.About 1" in diameter. $55
Binji Or Luntu Pipe
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Although typically missing its stem this small but striking pipe would be a valuable addition to any collection of African pipes. With its strong, abstract human head making up the bulk of the pipe bowl this example stands apart from other Binji pipes. This may be because the pipe is older or from a peripheral region or it may just be from the neighboring Luntu. Deluxe variegated patina. Ex private NY collection. Mounted on a custom base. 3" in length. $195
Classic, Complete Binji Pipe
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This fine and complete pipe consists of three separate parts: a carved wooden bowl and a beautifully detailed mid-section, and a hollow bone stem. More often than not, only disembodied anthropomorphic bowls have survive and find their way into collections, making this a rare and highly desirable find.Ex private Southwest collection. 15" in length. $600
Binji Pipe Bowl
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This intricately detailed pipe is a classic of its type. Binji pipes are prized for their anthropomorphic bowls which typically a gentlemen who appears to be wearing a top hat. Binji pipes may have been inspired by early European pipes as well as pottery, such as "Toby" jugs and other trade goods. Rich, black patina and traces of tikula pigment, the pipe is 4" in length. $175
Kuba Pipe With Antelope Image
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This delightful pipe is complete and intact. It has a sumptuous patina from years of leisurely handling. The wooden bowl is separately carved from the midsection and the the mouthpiece is bone. Traditional Kuba designs, similar to patterns seen in Kuba textiles, encircle the bowl and the segments of the wooden stem. Along the top of the pipe the carver has rendered the head of an antelope with long gently curving horns- most likely a lechwe, a species once common in marshy areas of the Kuba Kingdom. 23" long. Price on request
Shilluk Pipe Bowl
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The Shilluk are a Nilotic people living in the northern region of the Sud. For more than four centuries, until the 1860's, they maintained a cohesive kingdom on the banks of the Nile near modern day Malakal. Among their best known artifacts are ornate knives and scabbards, often sheathed in crocodile or lizard skin, headrests and pipes. This pipe was picked up by an American collector in London in the 1960's. It's chipped here and there and appears to be little-if-ever used although it certainly dates to the first half of the 20th Century. The pipe itself is in large part a human figure with a rather birdlike face. The spheres projecting from either side of its head reference the classic Shilluk princes' coiffure - unique, to my knowledge, to these remote people. 6" tall. 1960's mount. $550
Wodaabe
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A very similar dance belt is illustrated in Carol Beckwith's excellent "Nomads of NIger", in the chapter on the gerewol- an annual courtship ritual and competition among Wodaabe herdsmen. At the end of each summer as the Wodaabe prepare to leave the Sahara for their dry season pastures to the south, they gather at In Gall and other traditional meeting places for barter, camel races and socializing. The dance itself- a kind of beauty pageant with male competitors done up in elaborate costumes- is the yaake. This hide belt, with its scores of brass rings and coin silver pendant of Tuareg origin, is worn on the back side. 16" in length. Price on request
Mwila Knobkerrie
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The Mwila are semi-nomadic herdsmen living in Southwest Angola. They are a sub-group belongs to the larger Nyaneka-Khumbi amalgamated ethnic group inhabiting the Haumpata Plateau and the headwaters of Rio Caculovar. They have similar customs to the Ovahimba of northern Namibia who also herd livestock and traditionally carry nearly identical fluted clubs. The fluting is in fact a series of parallel ridges and depressions that form a finger-print pattern when viewed a right angles. 20.5" tall, mounted on a hardwood base.
Mwila Knobkerrie Of Aqualine Form
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The Mwila are semi-nomadic herdsmen living in Southwest Angola. They are a sub-group belongs to the larger Nyaneka-Khumbi amalgamated ethnic group inhabiting the Haumpata Plateau and the headwaters of Rio Caculovar. They have similar customs to the Ovahimba of northern Namibia who also herd livestock and traditionally carry nearly identical fluted clubs. The fluting is in fact a series of parallel ridges and depressions that form a finger-print pattern when viewed a right angles. 21" tall, mounted on a hardwood base.
Makonde Walking Stick 34.5
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Like people everywhere African artists adjusted to their changing environments whether it was they themselves who had moved, or the conditions of their surroundings had been altered. Among the changes which effected the Makonde in the 20th century were finding themselves in a new economy, settling in new lands in search of paid employment, coming into contact with new neighbors and potential clients, acquiring new tools and in so doing embracing new materials, carving techniques and subject matter. By mid century Makonde carvers with Mozambican roots were living in Tanzania and carving in the formerly unexploited African blackwood for the tourist trade. In addition to trade carvings of animals, cliche portrait busts and family sculptures known as "Uhuru" or "Family Tree" carvings, Makonde artists also carved for their own community, fashioning walking sticks (fimbos), swagger staffs and other traditional regalia often in the same medium and accustomed styles. This walking stick was fashioned in the 1960's or 70's and used locally for decades before being collected in the field south of Mtwara around 2003. 34.5" tall, mounted on a hardwood base. Price on request.
Well Worn Makonde Walking Stick
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Like people everywhere African artists adjusted to their changing environments whether it was they themselves who had moved, or the conditions of their surroundings had been altered. Among the changes which effected the Makonde in the 20th century were finding themselves in a new economy, settling in new lands in search of paid employment, coming into contact with new neighbors and potential clients, acquiring new tools and in so doing embracing new materials, carving techniques and subject matter. By mid century Makonde carvers with Mozambican roots were living in Tanzania and carving in the formerly unexploited African blackwood for the tourist trade. In addition to trade carvings of animals, cliche portrait busts and family sculptures known as "Uhuru" or "Family Tree" carvings, Makonde artists also carved for their own community, fashioning walking sticks (fimbos), swagger staffs and other traditional regalia often in the same medium and accustomed styles. This walking stick was fashioned in the 1960's or 70's and used locally for decades before being collected in the field south of Mtwara around 2003. It features a delicately carved portrait bust of a ritually marked woman sporting a lip plug. A snake entwines the lower shaft. 37" tall, mounted on a hardwood base. Price on request.
Makonde Blackwood Staff With Inlay
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Like people everywhere African artists adjusted to their changing environments whether it was they themselves who had moved, or the conditions of their surroundings had been altered. Among the changes which effected the Makonde in the 20th century were finding themselves in a new economy, settling in new lands in search of paid employment, coming into contact with new neighbors and potential clients, acquiring new tools and in so doing embracing new materials, carving techniques and subject matter. By mid century Makonde carvers with Mozambican roots were living in Tanzania and carving in the formerly unexploited African blackwood for the tourist trade. In addition to trade carvings of animals, cliche portrait busts and family sculptures known as "Uhuru" or "Family Tree" carvings, Makonde artists also carved for their own community, fashioning walking sticks (fimbos), swagger staffs and other traditional regalia often in the same medium and accustomed styles. This walking stick was fashioned in the 1960's or 70's and used locally for decades before being collected in the field south of Mtwara around 2003. Features a carved portrait head with inlaid aluminum eyes. A snake entwines much of the shaft, its surface decorated with inlaid copper and bakelite or styrene. 25" tall, mounted on a hardwood base. $950
Makonde 30
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Like people everywhere African artists adjusted to their changing environments whether it was they themselves who had moved, or the conditions of their surroundings had been altered. Among the changes which effected the Makonde in the 20th century were finding themselves in a new economy, settling in new lands in search of paid employment, coming into contact with new neighbors and potential clients, acquiring new tools and in so doing embracing new materials, carving techniques and subject matter. By mid century Makonde carvers with Mozambican roots were living in Tanzania and carving in the formerly unexploited African blackwood for the tourist trade. In addition to trade carvings of animals, cliche portrait busts and family sculptures known as "Uhuru" or "Family Tree" carvings, Makonde artists also carved for their own community, fashioning walking sticks (fimbos), swagger staffs and other traditional regalia often in the same medium and accustomed styles. This walking stick was fashioned in the 1960's or 70's and used locally for decades before being collected in the field south of Mtwara around 2003. This staff features a delicately carved portrait bust of a tribally marked woman wearing a lip plug. A snake entwines the lower shaft. 30" tall, mounted on a hardwood base. Price on request.
Old Makonde Staff With Figures
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This 29" tall staff was retired from use around 1990. By that time it was well worn and had long since suffered the loss of an ear from its figure head not to mention a ding or two. The work predates the adoption of African blackwood as the de rigueur material for fimbo (staffs and walking sticks) among the Tanzanian Makonde. Zigzag cicatrices on the figure head's cheeks identifies the piece the piece as Makonde supported by the motif of the entwined snake- a common theme in southern Tanzanian carving as well as in other south east African peoples. The motif is also well known in European and American folk art in Black American folk art and in Eastern Congo. This staff also presents a pair of climbing lizards lower down on the shaft as well as a human figure, arms raised, with inlaid white metal eyes. 29" tall. Price on request.
Makonde Staff 28.5
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Like people everywhere African artists adjusted to their changing environments whether it was they themselves who had moved, or the conditions of their traditional surroundings had been altered. Among the changes which effected the Makonde in the 20th century was a new economy, settling in new lands in search of paid employment, coming into contact with new neighbors and potential markets and acquiring new tools. The latter two led to employing new materials, carving techniques and subject matter. By mid century Makonde carvers with Mozambican roots were living in Tanzania and carving in the formerly unexploited African blackwood for the tourist trade. In addition to trade carvings of animals, cliche portrait busts and family sculptures known as "Uhuru" or "Family Tree" carvings, the same Makonde artists also carved for their own community, fashioning walking sticks (fimbos), swagger staffs and other traditional regalia often in the same medium and accustomed styles. This walking stick was fashioned in the 1950's or 60's and used locally for decades before being collected in the field near Mtwara before 1999. It features a bearded male finial head with inlaid bead eyes and the classic Makonde motif on the upper shaft of a lizard being stalked by a serpent. 28.5" tall, mounted on a hardwood base. Price on request.
Published Tanzanian Herbalist's Staff
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This ex William Brill collection staff is erroneously identified in "Shangaa, Art of Tanzania" as Gogo. Blame for the error lies with my own earlier misidentification. The staff features a mature, heterosexual couple. The much larger female, with pendulous breasts and short plaited hair, holds aloft a serpent- almost certainly a python- which in turn insinuates itself around her arm and body. Her companion pointedly faces the opposite direction, drawing contentedly on a pipe. In contrast to his serenity her face is contorted with anxiety. Gourd pipes of the form rendered in this carving are found from the Zambezi Valley up through northern Zambia and into parts of Tanzania and eastern Congo. The Gogo of Tanzania are known for calabash pipes but they use a distinctly different arrangement of pipe bowl and gourd. According to Gary Van Wyck both the Nyamwezi and Sukuma Snake and Porcupine Societies revere the python as a medium of ancestral spirits. Dancing with and wrangling snakes are both common practices among society members. The style of this highly original and complex carving appears to be Nyamwezi. My current interpretation is that it was the healing staff of a healer, likely to be a member of the Snake Society, among whose tasks was to attend to individuals suffering from snake bite through rites that included the administration of traditional medicines. The male figure engenders calm and reflection while the female figure, perhaps a representation of the healer herself, and embodying her age, intensity, and knowledge appeals to the ancestral spirits through the serpent-medium. 32" tall. Price on request.
Ancient Iron Torque With Spikes
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While Iron torques and collars were once common adornments in the Lobi region and have been not infrequently been among the goods offered by art traffickers over the years, examples with spikes are unknown even among those unearthed by gold prospectors and road crews. This is the only example I have encountered myself. It's relatively small (5.5") diameter suggests the possibility that it was fashioned not for human use but perhaps for a hunting dog. In such case, the spikes would have offered some protection in altercations with leopards or even lions whose instinctual mode of killing is either to suffocate with their jaws across the muzzle of their adversary or else to crush its windpipe. In the case of a battle with a large jawed canine the former strategy would be unworkable and with a spiked collar the latter would likely be spurned as well. Presented on a custom mount $550.