Jacaranda – New Acquisitions – Summer 2021

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We are pleased to present our latest online exhibition, New Acquisitions – Summer 2021. Comprising 21 objects from Africa and Oceania, the

While we will not be exhibiting at Pacours this year, we will be visiting Paris during the show and hope to see many of you again after a difficult 18 months. As always, feel free to

exhibition includes both figurative and non-figurative

email or call us with any questions on objects in our catalog

items made from a wide range of materials including shell,

or on our website. And whenever you are next in New York,

bronze, wood and copper. Our selection includes an archaic

please be sure to arrange a visit to our home gallery.

Maori figurative gable Tekoteko, a rare Marquesan female figure, a classic Kongo Nkisi, a particularly beautiful Kikuyu

Dori & Daniel Rootenberg

initiation shield Ndome and a stunning and rare dance wand

new york city, july 2021

from the Tiwi peoples of Northern Australia.







Until the middle of the 20th century, clans across equatorial Africa preserved the memories and spirits of revered ancestors through reliquaries that held the skulls of the renowned and distinguished. Elders of the widespread ancestor cult (most

Late 19th or early 20th century

widely known as bwiti or bwete among Kota peoples in

Wood, copper alloy

areas now belonging to Gabon and the Republic of Congo)

Height: 20 in

commissioned the creation of abstract figural sculptures (mbulu ngulu) that stood atop baskets or bark containers


that housed these precious relics. Produced in a variety of

Merton Simpson Gallery, New York, 1960s

styles, they were affixed to the lid of the reliquary container

William Brill (1918–2003), New York

or lashed to a relic bundle placed inside. On a superficial

To his son by inheritance

level they acted as the public face of familial altars, but they

Sotheby’s New York, November 2006

served a much more complex and important role as agents of

Private New York collection

ancestral power in communal rites and ritual performances, channeling support and protection to the community.


This reliquary figure shows many classic characteristics

Selections from the William W. Brill Collection of African Art,

of the tradition, with full, sweeping forms and a majestic

Milwaukee Public Museum, Wisconsin, 1969:28, #42.

presence. Its wide and curving shapes are balanced masterfully

Raoul Lehuard ‘La collection William Brill,’ in Arts d’Afrique Noire,

by sharp angles and rectilinear elements, all cohering in

no.26, Arnouville, 1978:18.

a beautiful geometric symmetry and poise. In the center

Alain & Francoise Chaffin L’Art Kota. Les figures de reliquaire, Meudon,

of the convex, oval face plate rest the domed and staring

1979:225, #126.

eyes so quintessential to the mbulu ngulu, transfixing the

Louis Perrois ‘Arts du Gabon, Arts d’Afrique Noire. Les Plastiques du

viewer with their gaze. Beneath the face with its impressive

Bassin de l’Ogooue,’ Arts d’Afrique Noire, Arnouville, 1979:181, #184.

headdress of lobed and semicircular forms, a ridged neck terminates in a flexed, diamond-shaped structure, rough-


hewn and deeply worn from its binding in the relic bundle.

Selections from the William W. Brill Collection of African Art,

The copper bands and sheets applied to the wooden body

Milwaukee Public Museum, Wisconsin, May 5–August 31, 1969.

of the figure were rare materials in the artist’s time, acquired

Selections from the William W. Brill Collection of African Art, St. Paul

through trade with Europeans and prized for their luster.

Art Center, St. Paul, Minnesota, October 23 – December 21, 1969.

Beginning in the 1870s, Kota reliquary figures were

Selections from the William W. Brill Collection of African Art, Tweed Art

among the earliest African sculptures to be acquired by

Gallery, University of Minnesota, Minnesota, January 14 – February

European naturalists and explorers, among them Paul Du

22, 1970.

Chaillu, Alfred Marche, Oscar Lenz, and Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza.

r e l i q ua r y g ua r d i a n f i g u r e , m b u lu n g u lu



r e l i q ua r y g ua r d i a n f i g u r e , m b u lu n g u lu

r e l i q ua r y g ua r d i a n f i g u r e , m b u lu n g u lu



r e l i q ua r y g ua r d i a n f i g u r e , m b u lu n g u lu


BABOON MASK, N’GON KOUN BAMANA, MALI Early 20th century Wood, sacrificial material Height: 22 in PROVENANCE

Private Midwest USA collection Sotheby’s New York, November 2004 Private New York collection

Virtually all aspects of the lives of Bamana men are governed and influenced by a group of six initiation

reborn into the community as fully formed men. The handsome n’gon koun presented here is of classic,

societies collectively known as Dyow (or Jow). To be

elongated form, with a domed head tapering smoothly

considered a complete and well-instructed individual,

down to a narrow chin. A sharp brow overhangs pierced,

a man must pass through the learning and rites of all

rectilinear eyes set closely upon the narrow ridge of the

six societies, each of which is associated with its own

nose, which reaches dramatically down nearly to the base of

emblematic mask. The final level in the Dyow sequence,

the mask. The earthy, rust-colored surface shows a heavily

which has as its mask that of the baboon (n’gon koun), is

encrusted patina of ritual material, and holes for attachment

known as Kore. Members of this society have acquired the

are found pierced along the perimeter.

requisite level of ancestral and traditional knowledge to be

baboon mask, n’gon koun



baboon mask, n’gon koun



baboon mask, n’gon koun


INITIATION SHIELD, NDOME KIKUYU, KENYA First half of 20th century Wood, pigments Height: 26 ½ in; Width: 19 in PROVENANCE

Private South African collection

This leaf-shaped dance shield is known as ndome and is

the shield dance, several boys are circumcised at once at a

used in boys’ coming-of-age ceremonies among the Kikuyu

special ritual location, grouped by age. Each set of boys is

people of central Kenya. When worn, the left arm is slipped

given a group name and its members treat each other as

through the ring at the base of the shield and the shield

brothers for life, and fight together in battle.

itself stands high above the head of the dancer. The ndome

Characteristic features of the ndome are a series of

symbolizes the warrior status the boy is about to acquire

serrated grooves in the form of a crescent on the reverse

through the rites of initiation, and the polychrome designs

side and a small, eye-shaped hole in the center through

carved in relief on either side relate to those with which he

which the dancer may peer. Patterns on the obverse

will decorate his future war shield, signalling his local origin

side traditionally followed the shape of an eye or eyelid.

and affiliation to a particular initiation cohort.

Craftsmen called muumburo or the initiates themselves

The adulthood initiations of both sexes are important

scraped, redesigned, and repainted these shields, which the

and separate affairs, but both involve circumcision and the

initiates customarily inherited as treasured heirlooms from

use of shields. For boys, the ceremony is called irua and

older male members of their family. If there was more than

takes place between the ages of fifteen and eighteen. After

one boy in a family, a new shield would be commissioned.

i n i t i at i o n s h i e l d , n d o m e



i n i t i at i o n s h i e l d , n d o m e

i n i t i at i o n s h i e l d , n d o m e



i n i t i at i o n s h i e l d , n d o m e

i n i t i at i o n s h i e l d , n d o m e



i n i t i at i o n s h i e l d , n d o m e


STAFF WITH HUMAN HEAD MOSSI, BURKINA FASO Late 19th or early 20th century Wood Height: 25 in PROVENANCE

Merton Simpson Gallery, New York Sotheby’s, November 1997 Private USA collection

A masterful reinterpretation of the human form, both

from the center of the head in representation of a braided

playful and sculpturally stunning, marks this magnificent

coiffure, the shape of which is echoed in the large, curved

Mossi staff. Sharing the geometricized appearance of

ears. The banded neck, swelling slightly, leads down into the

some Mossi doll figures, the head that crowns this staff is

body of the shaft, at the juncture of which a small pair of

block-like and imposing, the proportions of its elements

symbolic breasts stand forth.

given over to a powerful abstraction. Beneath the sharply

The frontal perspective of this staff gives little indication

indented eye notch a precise ridge descends diagonally back

of the composition’s true form, setting up a surprising

to the base of the jaw, bisecting the front and rear sections

moment of transformation as one’s vantage point shifts to

of the face into stepped planes. A parabolic crest rises

reveal the broad and expertly carved bust.

s ta f f w i t h h u m a n h e a d



s ta f f w i t h h u m a n h e a d

s ta f f w i t h h u m a n h e a d



s ta f f w i t h h u m a n h e a d



Robert Hales, UK

In contrast to Maori artists’ mesmerizingly intricate

While tewhatewha typically have straight handles, this

representational carvings, the weapons they fashioned show

example shows an extremely rare and possibly unique

at times a sleeker, more minimal design. This long-handled

angled form. At the vertex of the angle is found a carved

fighting staff, or tewhatewha (pronounced tefa tefa), is a

scroll pattern representing the head of an ancestor, with

prime example, featuring a slender, tapering haft and a

genealogical significance personal to the owner of this

blade-like head akin to an abstracted axe, showing a blend

weapon. The lowermost portion of the haft forms a tongue

of sharp angles and rounded edges.

protruding between the upper and lower jaws of the

Held in two hands, the tewhatewha would be used to deliver lightning thrusts with the flat top edge of the head, and it doubled as a signaling device, communicating a

ancestral mouth, which represent different hemispheres of knowledge, combining the heavenly and the physical. Like many Maori weapons, this tewhatewha is a status

leader’s battle commands to his warrior group. Decoration

object, holding importance both martial and spiritual. For

on traditional tewhatewha could be quite spare, as in this

the Maori, the longer and more storied a weapon’s history

example, or might take the form of detailed designs carved

grew, the more mana, or spiritual force, it would accrue.

in relief. A bundle of feathers (connected through the holes

Honored weapons were given names and were passed down

at the lower edge of the head) was commonly attached,

as heirlooms, growing in mana and prestige with each

serving to distract the gaze of the enemy and sometimes


absorb a measure of blood.

lo n g - h a n d l e d f i g h t i n g s ta f f , t e w h at e w h a



lo n g - h a n d l e d f i g h t i n g s ta f f , t e w h at e w h a

lo n g - h a n d l e d f i g h t i n g s ta f f , t e w h at e w h a



lo n g - h a n d l e d f i g h t i n g s ta f f , t e w h at e w h a


THREE WEST AFRICAN BRONZES SEATED FIGURE Dogon, Mali or Burkina Faso Late 19th or early 20th century Bronze Height: 3 in

Bronze, brass, and iron have been worked in a vast range of forms across Africa for centuries. Alongside large pieces such as currency objects, weapons, and bodily ornaments, the forges of Africa produced a wide variety of small works in metal, including figurines. Some bronze miniatures were used as goldweights and played a utilitarian role in trade, while others were used as talismans. Of this latter group, one of the foremost producers were the Kotoko, who participated in this tradition with a number of other cultures in and around the Sahara Desert.


Gary L. Schultze Collection, New York

Kotoko artists, living in the vicinity of Lake Chad, used the lost-wax technique to cast small figurines that were kept as personal amulets. Worn around an owner’s neck or


carried by hand or in a small pouch, they safeguarded their

Kotoko, Hadjer-Lamis or Chari-Baguirmi Regions, Chad, or Far

owners against outward threats as well as inner perils, such

North Region, Cameroon

as anxiety and mental illness. Many of these amulets depict

Late 19th or early 20th century

horse riders and archers, and are known as putchu guinadj.


These images are deeply rooted in a regional history of

Height: 2 ¾ in

horse-mounted warfare which greatly affected the Kotoko, and their potency as magical and mythological symbols


allow them to quell spirits which cause weakness of soul,

Private USA collection

sadness, fear, and alienation. They were often hung from necklaces and bracelets along with other items of protection

STANDING MALE FIGURE Senufo, Côte d’Ivoire or Mali Late 19th or early 20th century Bronze Height: 2 ¾ in

and propitiation, such as cowrie shells, leather gri-gri amulets, and bells. The figurines presented here show a range of the figural styles of the Saharan region. All were crafted using a similar method of shaping and application to produce simplified, abstracted forms. A Dogon example depicts a seated man, while a standing Senufo figurine shows slender, wavy


Gary L. Schultze Collection, New York

arms and legs, a crested coiffure, and applied knobs at the pectorals, navel, and pubis. The sole putchu guinadj in the group features a thick-bodied horse with rider holding its reins, sword slung along one flank.

three west african bronzes



three west african bronzes

three west african bronzes



three west african bronzes

three west african bronzes





three west african bronzes



A potent aura of strength marks this archaic tekoteko figure,


which represents the main progenitor of a tribe. It is a

Height: 29 in

central element of iconography in the whare whakairo, a carved tribal meeting house located in the marae (ritual


ground) of a Maori village. Tekoteko are found either at

Simon Spierer, Geneva (1926–2005)

the highest point at the front apex of the roof or at the

Adrian Schlag, Brussels

front central post of the meeting house. They can also be

Daniel Hourdé, Paris

incorporated into the richly carved poutokomanawa, or

Private USA collection

main central ridge support post. The flattened, frontal composition of this tekoteko shows


a classic Maori body form carved in the archaic style with a

Art Basel 2017 – Galerie Meyer

vigorous, wide-legged stance and three-fingered hands held at the belly. The large head has been organized to focus on


the sharply slanted eyes, wide nose, and gaping mouth with

Ein Wald der Skulpturen. Sammlung Simon Spierer, Landesmuseum

forcefully extended tongue. Over these rests a prominent,

Darmstadt, 2004.

swelling brow with a four-pointed crown and central knob.

Adrian Schlag, Tribal Art Classics II. Paris, 2006: 54–55.

The feet of the figure rest upon a vertical shaft, the front of

Galerie Meyer, exhibition catalog for ART Basel 2017, p 14.

which is carved with seven downward-pointing, openwork hooks. Remarkably rare in this type of figure is the openwork carving with which the eyes, nose, and mouth have been executed. This is a very atypical effect seen in only two other known tekoteko (ex Pierre Verité collection, Paris; Volkerkunde Museum, Berlin).

g a b l e f i g u r e , t e k ot e k o



g a b l e f i g u r e , t e k ot e k o

g a b l e f i g u r e , t e k ot e k o



g a b l e f i g u r e , t e k ot e k o

g a b l e f i g u r e , t e k ot e k o



g a b l e f i g u r e , t e k ot e k o


FEMALE FIGURE SONGYE, DR CONGO 19th century Wood Height: 6 ¾ in PROVENANCE

Gaston de Havenon, New York Hubert Goldet Collection, Paris Alan Brandt, New York, 1993 Private USA collection PUBLISHED

African Art in the de Havenon Collection, Museum of African Art, Washington, DC, 1971, fig. 234

Songye artists are renowned for their masks and statuary,

rudimentary form, are placed on either side of a protruding

which are highly stylized and often striking in their

umbilicus. A circular base terminates the figure at the waist.

sculptural power. Representations of males and females

With its blend of soft, sloping surfaces and rigid, geometric

abound in Songye tradition, each having a characteristic

shapes, the face is deeply expressive, suggesting both sorrow

style and individuality. These carvings were largely used

and wisdom. The numerous ridges of the neck symbolize

within secret societies as power objects, channeling

health, wealth, and fertility.

spiritual forces to protect or assist the owner or the greater community. This female figure shows a confidently modeled head, classic elongated neck, gentle shoulders, and simplified

The crown of the head holds a magical charge (boanga) made by a ritual practitioner. A paste composed of potent ingredients, boanga were placed in hollows in the torsos or heads of power figures to endow them with magical efficacy.

torso with arms carved in relief. The hands, sketched in

female figure



female figure

female figure



female figure



Wayne Heathcote, Brussels, 2005 Private USA collection

Shaped with robust and vigorous volumes, this female

It is unclear what exact purpose figures such as this one

Kanak figure communicates a strong sense of fleshy

served, but a similar example in the Museum der Kulturen,

physicality. With a benevolent expression, its oblong visage

Basel, was identified by Fritz Sarasin as one associated

sits atop a broad neck, with wide-set eyes, abstracted ears,

with the bringing of rain: ‘It is probable that most of these

and a classic Kanak nose of great width and protuberance.

figures were associated with ancestor worship. They, and in

Narrow arms flank a cylindrical torso, bending at the elbow

fact all of the sculptures of New Caledonia, were carved by

to place small hands upon a projecting umbilicus. From its

artists who had been selected not only because they were

broad hips descend thick, exaggerated thighs and calves,

skilled craftsmen, but because they had a relationship to the

standing well apart to frame and emphasize the pubis.

supernatural spirits they represented in their works.’

female figure



female figure

female figure



female figure

female figure



female figure


LIME SPATULA SOLOMON ISLANDS Late 19th century Wood Height: 15 in PROVENANCE

William Ockleford Oldman Collection (with original Oldman tag) (1879–1949) Abe Rosman and Paula Rubel Collection Private New York collection

The chewing of betel nut (Areca catechu) has been practiced

from a container to be added to the betel packet. The

across much of Asia and the Pacific for thousands of years.

handles and finials of spatulas, which are sometimes quite

Wrapped in betel leaves (Piper betle) and mixed with lime,

large, are often carved with elaborate figural or abstract

slices of the nut are chewed for the mild psychoactive

designs distinctive to the maker’s region.

and stimulating effect the mixture produces. A frequent

The sweeping and sinuous shape of this Solomon Islands

and ubiquitous indulgence, many cultures have placed

spatula is a reference to the qauata, a light, leaf-shaped

a significant degree of importance upon the chewing of

parrying shield that warriors used to deflect arrows and

betel nut, and have ascribed to it certain metaphorical

spears. Gracefully swelling and tapering along its length,

and spiritual meanings. In the Solomon Islands, betel nut

its curved form flows elegantly down to a spearhead-like

plays a role in gift-giving ceremonies such as betrothal and

point, which the betel preparer would slip into a cylindrical

propitiatory offerings to spirits.

bamboo container to withdraw a measure of lime. A narrow,

Melanesian artists applied a great deal of artistic energy

central ridge with a diving frigate bird design is carved in

to the production of betel nut paraphernalia, the most

relief down the middle of the form, again in direct homage

iconic of which is the lime spatula. This implement is used

to the aesthetics of full-sized parrying shields.

to extract a dose of lime (made from burnt shells or coral)

The spatula retains its original Oldman tag.

l i m e s pat u l a



l i m e s pat u l a


STOPPER WITH HUMAN HEAD YANZI OR YAKA, DR CONGO Late 19th or early 20th century Wood, fiber Height: 4 ½ in PROVENANCE

Private USA collection

This fine anthropomorphic stopper shows the design

with the rich, black patina – are a somewhat surrealistic,

hallmarks of those in the rather limited corpus of Yanzi art,

otherworldly aura and a striking sculptural power for an

taking the shape of an abstracted human bust with a tall,

object of such diminutive size.

helmet-like head, angling down toward the chin, atop an

Stoppers such as these were used to close the medicinal

elongated, flared neck. Panels of incisions in a grid pattern

gourds of diviners. A small piece of fiber cord, which would

are found on either side of the head and on the lower half

have originally kept the stopper attached to the gourd,

of the neck. The overall effect of these qualities – together

remains knotted around the neck.

s to p p e r w i t h h u m a n h e a d



s to p p e r w i t h h u m a n h e a d

s to p p e r w i t h h u m a n h e a d



s to p p e r w i t h h u m a n h e a d


DANCE WAND TIWI, AUSTRALIA Late 19th or early 20th century Wood, resin, pigment Height: 30 in PROVENANCE

Sotheby’s Sydney, Aboriginal Art, July 28-29, 2003: pgs. 74–75 and back cover, lot 141. Private USA collection

The multilayered, feathered shape of this double-sided

pattern of red, yellow, and white dots adorns the black

dance wand echoes and elaborates upon the barbed form of

surface of the wand, softening its sharp, pointed edges and

Tiwi ceremonial spears. Topped with a carved and painted

lending an organic visual effect to the tightly symmetrical

human face with pierced eyes, it suggests an abstract human

and precisely carved composition.

figure. At the center of the form are found two ovular, eyelike holes, seemingly fixed in an everlasting gaze. A dense

Remains of an old label (illegible) are found on the handle.

d a n c e wa n d



d a n c e wa n d

d a n c e wa n d



d a n c e wa n d



Renowned for their arresting sculptural power, Kongo

Wood, cloth, mirror, feathers, metal, leather, pigment

power figures represent one of the most iconic art forms

Height: 13 ¾ in

of central Africa. Created collaboratively by an artist and a ritual specialist (nganga), they are conceived to house


potent mystical forces and bear stern witness to critical

René Buthaud (1886–1986), Bordeaux, France, collection formed

community affairs.

between 1920–1950

Nkisi (pl. minsiki) is both the name of a spirit and a figure

Galerie Olivier Le Corneur (1906–1991) and Jean Roudillon

that can be made to contain it. The nganga empowers the

(1923–2020), Paris

figure by embedding animal and plant substances into it,

Alfred Müller, Saint Gratien, France

often in a cavity on the stomach, which is covered by a

Clayre and Jay Haft, USA

mirror. Thus charged, the nkisi is able to identify and attack

Christie’s New York, May 1993

a sorcerer who may be causing harm to certain individuals

James Willis (1934–2019), San Francisco, 1995

or the community at large; as well, minkisi were used to

Private USA collection

resolve conflicts among tribe members. Many minkisi are pierced with numerous nails and shards of metal, each


of which attests to a resolution between members of the

Raoul Lehuard ‘Art Bakongo. Les Centres de Style’ Arts d’Afrique

community or an effort to combat evil. While most minkisi

noire 2, Arnouville, 1989: 245 : fig. D 6-1-3

brandish a dagger, indicating their role as avenger, some stand with hands akimbo, suggesting their role as Supreme Being. The nkisi offered here shows a large abdominal cavity, multicolored body, and a number of attached accoutrements, including a prominent feather crown (possibly replaced) and a small cloth bundle slung across the torso. Wear and age have left the surfaces of the figure richly textured. Planted on its large feet and animated with a wide-eyed, vital expression, the figure holds high its right hand, which once carried a blade.

power figure, nkisi



power figure, nkisi

power figure, nkisi



power figure, nkisi

power figure, nkisi



power figure, nkisi


ZOOMORPHIC HEADREST NGONI, MALAWI 19th century Wood, glass beads Length: 14 ¼ in; Height: 6 ¾ in PROVENANCE

Wilhelm Pohlig, Germany Helmut Pohlig (1913–1980), Germany Udo and Waltraud Horstmann Collection, Zug, Switzerland PUBLISHED

Claus D. Chowanetz & Günter Rudolf, ‘Durch Bielefelder Wohnung weht ein Hauch von Steppe und Busch’ in Westfalen Blatt, Bielefeld, no. 208, September 7, 1968

Supported on four thick legs, this powerfully composed

the concave top surface.

headrest takes the form of a quadrupedal animal, or perhaps

This headrest belonged to Wilhelm Pohlig, a sanitary

two such animals fused and opposed at the midsection. The

sergeant serving in the Guardian Forces of General Paul

angular, wedge-shaped head/tail elements are echoed by the

von Lettow-Vorbeck in German East Africa. Pohlig’s son,

belly, which hangs between the trunk-like legs, tapering into

Helmut, was six years old when the colony collapsed after

a prominent, triangular umbilicus. Relief carvings are found

several years of resistance. After his father’s death, Helmut

on both sides of the abdomen in the form of tiered sawtooth

and his mother were the last citizens of the empire who left

motifs, and chevrons in relief decorate the head, which also

the colony, having been able to embark on the last ship from

features glass bead eyes. A small, diamond-shaped opening

Dar es Salaam through the personal intervention of General

is pierced in both sides of the belly, just below the edge of


zo o m o r p h i c h e a d r e s t



zo o m o r p h i c h e a d r e s t

zo o m o r p h i c h e a d r e s t



zo o m o r p h i c h e a d r e s t

zo o m o r p h i c h e a d r e s t



zo o m o r p h i c h e a d r e s t


SHELL TRUMPET PACIFIC REGION Late 19th century Conch shell Height: 11 ½ in PROVENANCE

Private New York collection

Conch shell trumpets are among the ancient symbols of

ritual, conch trumpets were also used for signaling.

a vast range of cultures across the globe, from the ancient

This fine trumpet features beautiful natural patterning

Mediterranean to South Asia, and from Africa to Central

and coloration of pinks, browns, and warm greys. While

America. The peoples of the South Pacific also included

the mouth hole is found at the side in this trumpet, other

conch trumpets in their traditions. To Polynesians of

examples are pierced at the tip and fitted with a mouthpiece.

Mangara in the Cook Islands, the penetrating blast of the

An old collection number (#49) is adhered to the inside

conch shell represents the voice of Rongo, the god who gave

wall of the shell’s main opening, the rim of which has a

fire to mankind. In Tonga, conch shells (kele’a) may play

chipped section.

in ensembles of two to five parts. In addition to music and

shell trumpet



shell trumpet

shell trumpet



shell trumpet


MINIATURE SPOON TSONGA, SOUTH AFRICA Late 19th or early 20th century Wood Height: 4 ½ in PROVENANCE

Merton Simpson Gallery, New York

Tsonga carvers are recognized for their exquisite work with the spoon form, producing elegant designs with remarkable technique and great imagination. Some of their most complex compositions involve linked chain elements, an approach suggested in the design of this miniature spoon. The two links forming the handle of the spoon are fused at the center point, supporting at opposite ends a thick, discshaped finial and a circular bowl. Both echo the roundness and weight of the other, providing a strong balance and a suggestion of symmetry to the piece. Like many of the great abstract carvings from the region, this spoon has an unmistakable figurative element.

m i n i at u r e s p o o n



m i n i at u r e s p o o n

m i n i at u r e s p o o n



m i n i at u r e s p o o n



Private collection, Pennsylvania, USA

A vital part of a hunter’s gear in Papua New Guinea was the spear thrower, a medium-length shaft with a grip and lip at the end, which was used to propel spears or javelins with greater force. Holding the spear parallel to the thrower, the hunter would use an ornamental thumb guard, attached to the center of the thrower, to keep the spear in place and guide its aim. The ornaments were often carved quite elaborately, taking the shape of humans and animals. This example suggests an abstract human face, the eye design of which may symbolize a parrot’s tongue.

spear thrower ornament



spear thrower ornament

spear thrower ornament



spear thrower ornament


HIGH-RANKING WOMAN’S NECK RING, LEPETU SOTHO, SOUTH AFRICA Mid-19th century Brass Height: 5 ½ in; Width: 6 ½ in PROVENANCE

Jeremy Sabine, South Africa (acquired from the owner, whose grandfather had found it on his farm in the Limpopo region, South Africa)

A soft luster and simple, stunning grace mark this Sotho

of extraction of copper and zinc, the components of brass,

neck ring. Known as lepetu, such rings are status necklaces

in the present-day KwaZulu-Natal, or adjacent Cape and

worn by married women. The width of the ring directly

Free State, and thus it would have been imported as an alloy,

correlates to the prestige of the wearer, and the largest in

brought to the shores of southern Africa by Portuguese

width were worn by the wives of chiefs. They are quite

merchants. Brass probably reached the smiths of the South

rare, with only some twenty-four other known examples in

Sotho people through traders travelling from the Cape. The

public collections.

local brass-workers would have fashioned this collar into its

In the pre-colonial period, from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, brass was a prestige commodity

distinctive form by hammering it flat once it had been cast in a mould.

among the peoples of southeast Africa. There is no evidence

high-ranking woman’s neck ring, lepe tu



high-ranking woman’s neck ring, lepe tu


ZITHER WITH HUMAN HEAD, LIGOMBO GOGO, KAGURU, OR ZARAMO, TANZANIA Late 19th or early 20th century Wood, string Height: 35 in PROVENANCE

Merton Simpson Gallery, New York Private USA collection

Trough zithers are a group of African stringed instruments

The slender string board shows raised edges around its

or chordophones whose members resemble wooden bowls,

entire silhouette and is flared at both ends. At the top of

pans, platters, or shallow gutters with strings stretched

the zither is a finial carved in the form of a small head

across them. The instruments may be quiet when played,

with elongated neck and open mouth, perhaps portraying

depending upon the shape of the bowl or string-holder.

a singer. In conjunction with the flared end of the string

Sound is often amplified with the addition of a resonator,

board, the visual effect is that of a full bust with shoulders.

commonly fashioned from a large gourd.

A small piece of string remains attached at the bottom end

This is an example of a six-string zither. The original

of the zither.

resonator is missing, as is typical with most early examples.

zither with human head, ligombo



zither with human head, ligombo

zither with human head, ligombo



www.jacarandatribal.com dori@jacarandatribal.com T +1 646-251-8528 New York City, NY 10025



zither with human head, ligombo

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