Senufo cultivators staff AF47
Culture, Origin: Senufo, Burkina Faso/Mali/Cote D’Ivoire
Material: Wood
Dimensions: 35cm
Provenance: Bonhams
Notes: In order to make the drudgery of agricultural labour more interesting Senufo run physical competitions for young farmers. The first to finish digging a trench is crowned as champion cultivator (sambali), the 'master farmer'. He is awarded a tefalipitya staff. It represents pitya, a young, unmarried, and beautiful woman, and is a symbol a future marriage. It is the highest honour for a Senufo man to be known as sambali, a title that stays with him until his death, upon which his tefalipitya staff is placed outside is home to guard his spirit.
Price: POA
Senufo anklet AF9
Culture, Origin: Senufo Burkina Faso/Mali/Cote D’Ivoire
Material: Bronze
Dimensions: 15cm
Provenance: Phillips, London
Price: POA
Akan badge AF149
Culture, Origin: Akan, Ghana
Material: gilded metal
Dimensions: 7cm diam.
Provenance: Deceased estate, UK.
Notes: In Akan thought, gold is considered an earthly counterpart to the sun and the physical manifestation of life's vital force, or kra. Cast gold and gilt metal disks called akrafokonmu ("soul washer's disc") are worn as protective emblems by important members of the court, including royal attendants known as akrafo, or "soul washers." Individuals selected for this title are beautiful young men and women born on the same day of the week as the king. Worthy of serving the king in light of their youth and vigor, they ritually purify and replenish the king's vital powers and, in doing so, help to stabilize and protect the nation. This akrafokonmu displays a central conical rosette surrounded by concentric bands and a cross motif. The composition as a whole reflects specifically Akan aesthetic concepts, in that the circular form of the disc and the concentric arrangement of the designs evoke the emanating rays of the sun that were the source of the kra of the king and his people.
Price: POA
Fon brass fig AF146
Culture, Origin: Fon, Republic of Benin
Material: gilt brass
Dimensions: 21.5cm high
Provenance: Deceased estate, UK
Notes: Brass is considered a semi precious metal amongst the Fon, and figurative castings depicting rural life or illustrating proverbs, are displayed in homes as art objects and to reinforce social status. Price: £495
kuba pwoom itok mask af144
MASK, pwoom itok
Culture, Origin: Kuba, D. R. Congo
Material: wood, raffia
Dimensions: 27 x 36 x 30cm
Provenance: Private Collection UK
Notes/Literature: The tri-lobed coiffure carved beneath an elaborate woven geometric cut-pile raffia headpiece with side flanges. Striking protuberant conical eyes, with pierced perimiters for sight above a large angular nose and diminutive smiling mouth, all painted overall with brown and white geometric and dotted patterns. Pwoom itok represents a wise old man and is performed at initiations and burials to signify elders’ knowledge. The mask wears the U-shaped raffia headdress of a high-ranking male warrior. Originally it may have been crested with a bunch of speckled feathers representing high titleholders. Instead there is a little domed raffia cap of a titled male called laket.
Price: POA
nupe mirror box AF71
Culture, Origin: Nupe, North Central Nigeria.
Material: Wood, glass, paper.
Dimensions: 22 x 18 x 5cm
Provenance: Private Collection, UK
Literature/Notes: Cosmetics boxes or vanity cases are found amongst numerous groups in Nigeria, including the Yoruba and Igala, but rarely the Nupe. This box is modelled as a stylised turtle with the cover as a koranic tablet which slides open to reveal a mirror of sorts, composed of glass and silvered paper. The vertical borders are carved with stylised cowrie shells, whilst the head, limbs, cover and sides are incised with parallel lines or crosses. The back is domed like the turtle's carapace, and incised with geometric motifs allover. Similar stylised turtles can be found amongst other animal and domestic motifs on Nupe palace doors famously carved in Sakiwa's compound at Lapai.
Price: £550
Ibibio mask AF140
MASK, idiok ekpo
Culture, Origin: Ibibio, Southeastern Nigeria.
Material: wood, raffia, pigment
Dimensions: 30 x 27cm (mask only)
Provenance: Private collection, UK.
Literature/Notes: Ibibio inhabit the area between the Cross River and the Niger Delta. This mask has an articulated jaw bearing teeth, and retains orange pigment about the eyes and a large part of its black dyed raffia fringe and beard. Cf. Herbert M. Cole, Invention and Tradition: The Art of Southeastern Nigeria, Prestel, 2012, p. 75, "Ekpo - the Ibibio word for ancestor - members danced light coloured ‘mfro’ and black or dark coloured ‘idiok’ masks that evoke benign and more numerous malevolent ancestors, respectively. Ancestors are responsible for advising and protecting their living descendants. The masks partake of the Beauty/Beast modes discussed above, even if some of the dark, large-featured masks have a benign role in social control." Compare with an Ibibio mask with articulated jaw in the National Museum of African Art (Smithsonian), no. 97-8-1.
Price: POA
Igala figure AF48
Culture, Origin: Igala, Benue River, Eastern Nigeria
Material: wood
Dimensions: 37cm H
Provenance: Private collection, UK. Bonhams.
Literature/Notes: The Igala live south of the Benue River and east of the Niger, and are closely related to the Jukun and Chamba with whom they share many artistic traditions. Figures carved in the Akpa region of Igala country, have characteristic crest coiffures, flat oval faces and angled cheek scarifications. This figure has a rod beneath the platform base. One arm broken.
Price: POA
wurkun fig AF4
Culture, Origin: Wurkun, Benue River Valley, Eastern Nigeria
Material: wood, sacrificial material, bespoke stand
Dimensions: 37cm H
Provenance: Private Collection, UK
Literature: The Wurkun are well known for their male/female figures mounted on spikes used to ensure the well-being of the family through the fertility of crops. They were installed in the fields beside conical grass structures. Others were placed on domestic shrines and used for curing illness or divination. This figure has fine encrusted surface patina. Cf. Alisa LaGamma, Echoing Images - Couples in African sculpture, 2004 for a discussion of kundul and other pairs of figures.
Price: POA
Baule cow mask AF32
Culture, Origin: Baule, Ivory Coast
Material: wood
Dimensions: 23cm
Provenance: Private Collection, UK
Literature/Notes: Domestic and wild animal masks are danced as part of the Gbagba performances amongst the Baule in a series of amusing skits that represent a microcosm of the human world. They are performed to mock and poke fun at stereotypes and usually draw a moral. This mask represents the bush cow, and shows signs of considerable age. It is sensitively carved with with gentle rounded volumes and has a deep brown patina.
Price: POA
Bini mask AF67
MASK, ekpo
Culture, Origin: Bini, Benin, Nigeria.
Material: wood
Dimensions: 36 x 22 x 18cm
Provenance: Leendert Van Lier, Netherlands
Literature/Notes: This rare mask is particularly elaborate for its type. The features are carved in high relief with bold colouring. The coiffure is ornamented with a two-tone human head and four medicine bottles. The white eyes and teeth vividly contrast against the dark face with details picked out in red-brown. Old label behind. These masks were worn by members of the Ekpo, a male society that manages the welfare of the village and settles disputes and depict ancestors. The Ekpo also have traditionally performed rituals related to planting, the yam harvest, and funerals. Compare this with a Binio Ekpo mask with carved figure and medicine bottles on the forehead formerly in the William Brill Collection, published in Werner Gillon, Collecting African Art, 1979, p. 72, ill. 70.
Price: POA
Bamileke mask AF43
Culture, Origin: Bamileke, Cameroon.
Material: wood
Dimensions: 80cm
Provenance: Private Collection, UK
Literature/Notes: The 'Grassland' or 'Grassfield' region in southwestern Cameroon is considered one of the foremost centres of sub-Saharan art, being relatively isolated from the influences of Islam and Christianity, enabling the preservation of religious, socio-political and cultural institutions to this day. The 700,000 Bamileke people are ruled by a King or fon, and sculpture, music and dance generally express the symbols of royal power, such as the bush cow.
Price: POA
dogon mask AF10
Culture, Origin: Dogon, Mali
Material: wood, pigment
Dimensions: 48cm
Provenance: John Wright Collection, Bonhams London
Literature/Notes: Used by dancers at funerals and death anniversaries (dama). The mask is considered the repository of the spiritual force released upon death. The masked procession acts as a consecrated passage that guides the deceased to their final resting place with the ancestors. It was anthropologist, Marcel Griaule who first highlighted the ritual contexts of offer 70 masks (walu) used by the Dogon the 1930s. This is a classic example of the antelope mask (ireli), with an overall rectangular form with deep recessed panels that frame the eye holes and horns. The artist has reduced the features of the antelope to its essence, giving it a severe angularity that evokes the stark beauty of Dogon buildings in the Bandiagara cliff region. Cf. Monni Adams, Designs For Living, 1982, p.24-25, fig. 6 for a similar mask collected in Ouagadougou in 1968 in the Drs. Carolyn & Eli Newberger Collection. Also Kate Ezra, Art of the Dogon, 1988, p. 113 for details of the costume and performance.
Price: POA
Ibibio mask AF118
GHOST MASK, idiok ekpo
Culture, Origin: Ibibio, Calabar Province, Nigeria
Material: Wood
Dimensions: 16.5 x 12 x 7cm
Provenance Private collection
Notes Ugly masks, in contrast to beautiful/good masks, exhibit exaggerated and distorted features representing malevolent, wandering spirits of ancestors (idiok ekpo). They are usually small, with non-human features such as jagged teeth, painted black and sometimes represent the disfiguring disease gangosa (Rhinopharyngitis mutilans, which attacks the soft tissue of the nose and palate), and is called odok (no-nose) in Ibibio.
Price: POA
teke fetish AF33
Culture, Origin: Teke, Republic of Congo/Democratic Republic of Congo.
Material: wood, shell, cloth, string
Dimensions: 12cm H.
Provenance: Max Wilborg, London (collection no. 732020)
Price: £850
Kuba raffia sq AF111
Culture, Origin: Kuba, D. R. Congo
Material: raffia
Dimensions: 45 x 26cm
Provenance: Bonhams London
Notes/Literature: The Bushoong, Ngongo and Shoowa subgroups are known for producing complicated woven and dyed raffia textiles, for a variety of purposes. Nbol (colloquially known as 'Kasai Velvets') involve both embroidery and cut pile techniques, using named interlocking geometric designs replicated in Kuba wood carving and body scarification. They were used for dowry payments, as seat mats, floor mats and as shrouds. Cf. John Picton & John Mack, African Textiles, 1989, p.200. Also John Mack, Emile Torday and the Art of the Congo 2900-1909.
Price: £270
lulua fig AF6
Culture, Origin: Lulua, D.R.Congo
Material: wood
Dimensions: 13 x 2.5 x 2.5cm
Provenance: Private Collection
Literature: William Fagg, Miniature Wood Carvings of Africa, 1970, p. 88, figs 84-85. Small figures such as these, were sometimes worn around the neck of infants and were used as protective charms.
Price: POA
baule fig AF2
SPIRIT FIGURE, asie usu/blolo bla
Culture, Origin: Baule, Ivory Coast
Material: wood
Dimensions: 45cm
Provenance: John Christopherson (1921-1996). Phillips, London.
Literature, Notes: Representing a Bush Spirit or Spirit Wife, this powerful seated female is modelled suckling a child in her ams, whilst seated on a stool. Remains of fibre to rear coiffure and blue pigment to neck keloids. Cf. figure in the Seattle Art Museum, published in Praise Poems - The Catherine White Collection, 1984, p. 42-43, fig. 17 for a similar seated maternity. Also see a mask formerly in the Rudolf et Leonore Blum Collection, sold Christies, Paris 19.6.2014
Price: POA
akan fig AF8
Culture, Origin: Akan, Ghana
Material: wood (arm restored)
Dimensions: 40cm
Provenance: Boisgirard, Paris.
Literature/Notes: Figures like these are used as an aid to conception by a priest who invokes the influence of his cult deity to induce pregnancy. The flat forehead is a convention of the Akan ideal of beauty. Figures are used during pregnancy too, to ensure safe delivery. Cf. Monni Adams, Designs For Living, p. 50, fig, 26, for a standing female almost certainly by the same hand/studio in the Mary Ellen Alonso collection. Also see H. Cole and D. Ross, The Arts of Ghana, 1977.
Price: POA
palm wine vessel AF35
Culture, Origin: Bamileke, Cameroon
Material: wood
Dimensions: 80cm
Provenance: Ex. Prof. Ferdinand Herrmann Collection, Germany
Literature/Notes: Palm wine gourds, covered with coloured bead sheaths, were raised on stools and formed part of the Royal regalia displayed on important occasions. This version, carved in wood in the shape of a natural gourd, and ornamented with panels of cowrie shells, is also supported by an elephant, itself a symbol of power and Royal authority and reserved exclusively for the king. Compare with the Wield Bamileke stool with similar cowrie shell carved frieze in Karl-Ferdinand Schaedler, Gods Spirits Ancestors, 1992/3, p. 166, ill 133.
Price: POA
Zande mbtim AF68
Culture, Origin: Zande, southern Sudan
Material: earthenware with mica
Dimensions: 15 x 16 x 16cm
Provenance: Phillips Auctioneers, London; Private Collection, UK
Literature/Notes: This vessel is characteristic of works by a Zande artist known as Mbitim, typically using raw clay with tiny mica flakes to reflect light (hilidiwe). He is known to have made spherical pots with human head finials and digital bookends for Europeans. Other examples in the Pitt Rivers Museum, the Cleveland Museum, and one from the R. Rubin Collection sold in Sothebys New York 13-5-11 lot 26. Also two others in the British Museum collected in the late 1920s/early 30s, one by Mbitim from his studio in Lirangu, and another similar by an unknown potter in Tembura, published in Nigel Barley, Smashing Pots, 1994, p. 144-145.
Price: POA
baule whisk AF77
Culture, Origin: Baule, Ivory Coast
Material: wood, horse hair, cloth
Dimensions: 139 x 7.5 x 7.5cm
Provenance: Private Collection, UK
Notes, Literature: Fly-whisks are ceremonial objects used by chiefs and high-ranking dignitaries. Normally overlaid in gold leaf, they are important symbols of authority, the geometric motifs are both ornamental and practical enabling the anchoring of gold leaf to the surface wood. Cf. Susan M. Vogel, African Art - Western Eyes, ill. p. 128, 198, 199.
Price: £495
luba oracle AF6
Culture, Origin: Luba, D.R. Congo
Material: wood
Dimensions: 16 x 4 x 7cm
Provenance: Private Collection, UK
Literature/Notes: Jean-Baptiste Bacquart, The Tribal Arts of Africa, p. 156, fig. 4 for a similar divination implement ('friction oracle') carved with a head on squared frame. When in use, the mbuki (diviner) and client each grasp the implement and rub it back and forth on a mat together, while the diviner asks questions of the spirits. When the spirits respond, the kakishi suddenly changes to an up/down movement.
Price: £550
pointed Lele p flask AF85
Culture, Origin: Lele, D. R. Congo
Material: Wood, fibre
Dimensions: 8cm
Provenance: Max Wilborg, London (collection no. 73962)
Price: £350
domed Kongo flask AF84
Culture, Origin: Kuba/Shoowa, D. R. Congo
Material: Wood
Dimensions: 12.5 x 9 x 11cm
Provenance: Private Collection, UK
Price: £450

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