Page 1

American Indian & Tribal Art 3536B | December 14, 2020 | Marlborough, MA | www.skinnerinc.com

American Indian & Tribal Art December 14, 2020 Our December auction offers over 400 lots of artifacts and ritual objects representing tribal cultures from across the world. We begin our journey in Central America with a number of fabulous gold pendants and jade axe gods from Costa Rica. A rare stone Olmec celt and large Teotihuacan stone mask are featured from Mexico. Peruvian cultures are exemplified by Chimu copper pectoral ornaments and Chancay textiles. You will also find a broad range of African art in this auction—figures from the Dogon peoples of Mali, Ivory Coast masks and figures, and a number of Nigerian and Congo pieces, some of which originate from the prestigious New York gallery Pace Primitive. Artifacts from the South Pacific include war clubs, stone food pounders and spatulas, wood and woven masks, and unusual neck rests. Native American tribes from across the continent are also represented. Northeastern crook knives, baskets, and bowls, as well as Plains beadwork, clubs, pipes, a rare painted tipi model, and an exceptional early grizzly claw necklace. Pueblo pottery, Californian baskets and Navajo weavings, including an early Classic serape and second and third phase Chief’s blankets supply the auction with artifacts from the Southwest and Western tribes. The peoples of Alaska and Canada produced beautifully designed utilitarian objects such as fishhooks, spoons, bowls, boxes, masks, and an ingenious pair of snow goggles, all of which we invite you to preview, ask questions about, and bid on.

please contact the department for condition reports & preview information, visit our website to register & bid

Michael Evans

5 Pre-Columbian Stone Funerary Mask, Teotihuacan, Mexico, c. 450-650 AD


6 Costa Rican Jade Staff-Bearer Pendant, Atlantic watershed region, c. 300-700 AD


4 Pre-Columbian Stone Effigy Celt, Olmec, Mexico

MA LIC. 2304

When Christopher Columbus first observed golden bird pendants around the necks of the local peoples of Central America he called them “eagles.� In fact, the pendants represent a large variety of birds, not only eagles, but owls, pelicans, seabirds, and the black king vulture. The pendants were created through the techniques of lost-wax casting and fine hammer work. Often the gold was mixed with copper ore.


14 Diquis Gold Avian Pendant, Costa Rica, c. 800-1500 AD, possibly an eagle, (detail) 15 Pre-Columbian Copper Funerary Mask, Chimu, Peru, c. 1000-1400 AD 16 Pre-Columbian Copper Pectoral Ornament, Chimu, Peru, c. 1000-1400 AD 18 Two Details from a Pre-Columbian Textile Fragment, Chancay, Peru, c. 11001300 AD

front cover: 226 Northwest Coast Argillite Pipe, Haida back cover: 327 Mexican Saltillo Serape Textile, late Maximilian period (details)

28 Batak Shaman’s Lime Squeezer, Sumatra, Indonesia

65 Tolai Mask, Lor, Gazelle Peninsula, New Britain, Papua New Guinea

36 Betel Nut Staff, Wapo Delta, Gulf Province, Papua New Guinea

53 New Guinea Flute Ornament, Iatmul, Middle Sepik River Province

78 Tongan Hardwood Club, ‘Akau tau

79 Tongan Pole Club, ’Aku Povai

26 Dayak Wood Coffin End, 19th century, Kayan, Borneo, Indonesia

43 Massim Lime Spatula, Trobriand Islands, Papua New Guinea

Browse online & register to bid: skinnerinc.com

HAWAIIAN BOWLS There is a long tradition in Hawaii of making wooden bowls from native hardwoods. Originally made only for members of the ali’i or chieftain class, ‘umeke represent a link to Hawaii’s indigenous history, and represent the pinnacle of Pacific wood craft. Used for food including poi, fermented from taro root, a bowl such as this would hold enough for a family. Revered, cherished, and often named for accomplished ancestors, bowls became vessels of tradition as well, as the recitation of names and deeds fostered transfer of knowledge between generations.

91 Hawaiian Ring Pounder, Pohaku puka ku’i poi 94 Hawaiian Wood Poi Bowl 40 Massim Wood Staff, Trobriand Islands, Papua New Guinea 42 Double Massim Bowl, Trobriand Islands, Papua New Guinea

117 Baule Standing Female Figure, Ivory Coast 138 Pende Shoulder Mask, Democratic Republic of the Congo 144 Songye Kifwebe Mask 141 Luba Female Figure, Bahololoholo, Democratic Republic of the Congo 131 Urhobo Mask, Nigeria 142 Goma Mask, Democratic Republic of the Congo 112 Bamana Door Lock

Visit us online to browse, register, & bid: skinnerinc.com

152 Northern Plains Fully Beaded Hide Moccasins, Sioux, c. 1880s 154 Comanche High-top Woman’s Moccasins, c. 1900 171 Central Plains Pictorial Miniature Wood and Hide Tipi, Lakota, c. late 19th century, (with detail view) 170 Plains Painted Parfleche Box, Sioux, late 19th century

180 Plains Grizzly Bear Claw Necklace, early second quarter 19th century 163 Eastern Sioux Wood and Catlinite Pipe, late 19th century 166 Large Plains Catlinite Pipe Bowl, late 19th century 161 Northern Plains Commercial Leather Knife Sheath, late 19th century 202 Early Carved Burlwood Bowl, possibly Iroquois, 18th/19th century

learn more at skinnerinc.com

PLAINS GRIZZLY CLAW NECKLACE Necklaces of grizzly bear claws were highly esteemed by Native American men of the eastern Plains. In gathering long claws from an animal known for its ferocity, a man displayed his courage. The prairie grizzly foreclaws grew to a great length due to the wooded valley habitat in which they roamed, as opposed to the short claws of bears in the mountainous regions. The prairie grizzly became extinct by the mid-19th century, thus their claws became even more prized as a prestige emblem and a valuable trade item.

167 Southern Plains Beaded Hide Doll, late 19th century 168 Plains Beaded Hide Doll, Sioux, late 19th century 183 Mohawk Carved and Painted Wood Cradle Board, c. mid-19th century 173 Kiowa Beaded Blanket Strip on Buffalo Hide 158 Plains Beaded Purse, Lakota, c. 1900

THE CLAFLIN SERAPE The classic serape was the culmination of a century and a half of progress and growth in Navaho textile tradition. The Navajo learned to weave during the latter part of the 17th century from the Pueblos, who had been weaving cotton and other fabrics for hundreds of years. When the Spanish settled in the Southwest (from 1598) they introduced European treadle looms, Churro sheep to supply wool, and blue indigo dye. Churro wool and indigo blue soon became a part of the Pueblo weaving tradition. When the Navajo learned to weave they took over the Pueblo upright loom and weaving techniques, as well as cotton, wool, and indigo dye. The earliest textiles woven by the Navajo were like those of the Pueblos, one-piece manta dresses, shirts, and blankets. Decoration largely consisted of stripes of many types, and by the 1700s, the Navajo began to weave serape-style blankets. They mastered the techniques of tapestry weaving enabling them to weave far more complex designs. Their designs, based on terraced triangles and stepped zigzags, had long been used by the Navajo in decorating their finely coiled baskets. This rare wearing blanket was collected in the late 19th century by Eliza Hosmer, who spent time in New Mexico. Hosmer amassed a remarkable collection of Navajo textiles, numbering between forty and fifty examples. Around 1932, William Claflin acquired this example from Hosmer’s niece, Anne Lauriat Read, who had received it as a gift from her aunt. While the bulk of William Claflin’s southwest textile collection was given to the Peabody Museum, Harvard, this example was gifted to members of his family. The textile is in pristine condition and was possibly made before the Bosque Redondo episode in 1863. It contains Saxony yarns and handspun Churro fleece dyed with cochineal and indigo. This textile embodies all the characteristics of early Classic Navajo serapes; horizontal design layout incorporating narrow bands, with three wider joined terraced diamond devices between, the larger being in the middle of the blanket. This configuration of larger central diamonds is often used in serapes of this period. With three concentric terraced elements top and bottom, the central device in each is surmounted by a small cross. The predominate colors of red, blue, and white add to the appearance of complexity and the use of the Saxony yarn creates an extremely tight weave in a longer-than-wide format. This rare and exceptional weaving is a high point of Navajo craft.

324 Navajo Classic Serape, c. 1860s

325 Classic Navajo Man’s Wearing Blanket

321 Navajo Weaving in a Third Phase Chief’s Pattern

explore a wide range of textiles online:


326 Late Classic Navajo Chief’s Blanket

THE GHOST DANCE The Ghost Dance was born out of a healer’s vision of peace and unity for the western Indians, comity with the United States, and a reunion with their lost ancestors. While the movement itself was not violent, the Lakota turned to it for solace in response to Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) efforts to break up and “pacify” them, forcing them into farming and removing their children to infamous BIA boarding schools. Ghost Dance clothing was believed to have powers to protect the wearer, but action to stamp out the movement and disarm the Lakota led to the death of Sitting Bull, and the subsequent massacre of 153 people at Wounded Knee. The Ghost Dance, like many other Native rituals and practices, went underground, but continued in secret well into the 20th century.

opposite: 179 Plains Ghost Dance Dress, late 19th century 189 Northeast Beaded Hide and Cloth Moccasins, Micmac, c. mid19th century 213 Prehistoric Woodlands Stone Pipe, possibly Hopewell Culture, c. 100 BC-500 AD 186 Pair of Eastern Woodlands Beaded Sashes, early 19th century

231 Northwest Coast Horn Spoon, late 19th century 260 Eskimo Wood Mask, Inupiaq, Alaska, 19th century 227 Northwest Coast Argillite Shaman Group, Haida, late 19th century 236 Northwest Coast Effigy Halibut Hook, 19th century 255 Northwest Coast Polychrome Wooden Model Totem Pole, c. 1900

TREE OF LIFE BUTTON ROBE Robes decorated with family and clan insignia have been made by indigenous people in the Pacific northwest for countless generations. Imbued with history and tradition, the magnificent garments play a central role in traditional culture. With the introduction of woolen cloth and mother-of-pearl buttons by the Hudson’s Bay Company, traditional designs made from hide, pigments, and abalone shell were adapted to the new materials, and so-called “button blankets” were born.

254 Northwest Coast Cloth Dance Robe, probably Kwakwaka’wakw, late 19th century 225 Northwest Coast Argillite Pipe, Haida, mid-19th century

243 Northwest Coast Adze, 19th century

259 Pair of Eskimo Wood Snow Goggles, Alaska, c. 1900

295 Navajo Silver and Turquoise Squash Blossom Necklace, Ernest Bilagody, c. 1970

402 Southwest Coiled Pictorial Basketry Tray, Apache, c. 1900

349 Southwest Polychrome Pottery Jar, Zia, c. 1900-20s

403 Large Apache Pictorial Coiled Basket

369 Cochiti Painted Pottery Canteen, c. late 19th century

361 Contemporary Santa Clara Carved Redware Jar, signed “Margaret Tafoya”

63 Park Plaza | Boston, MA 02116



For buyers, consignors, and the passionately curious

Profile for Skinner, Inc.

American Indian & Tribal Art  

Our December auction offers over 400 lots of artifacts and ritual objects representing tribal cultures from across the world. We begin our j...

American Indian & Tribal Art  

Our December auction offers over 400 lots of artifacts and ritual objects representing tribal cultures from across the world. We begin our j...