SALE END DATE AND TIME
July 31, 2016 : SALE CLOSED
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A beautiful, rare example of a male corset, once worn by a Dinka tribesman; while used to attract members of the opposite sex, the style and materials used in the corset also illustrate age, initiation level, and marital status. This example has old fiber and an inventive and bold mix of colored glass beads. In the presence of this work, one cannot help but consider the remarkable amount of detailed time, work and craft that went into the creation of this piece, and the amazement that it is made to be worn on the body.
Referring to the red beaded corset in the permanent collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City (photo, inset right), Emily Martin wrote, "This extraordinary beaded corset is a rare example of the everyday wear of Dinka men. Because the Dinka peoples are herders, wandering the vast plains of southern Sudan, portable possessions are very important. Like many southern and eastern African cultures, the Dinka have traditionally focused on the human form as the primary method of artistic expression. Because these garments are used to communicate characteristics such as gender, age, wealth, and ethnic affiliation, we can infer a significant amount of information about the past wearer of this object. In particular, the red-and-black patterning indicates that the corset was worn by a male between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five. The decoration of cowries, along with the extreme height of the back, marks the wearer as someone of considerable wealth. The addition of the fur skirt (possibly cattle hair) is significant. The Dinka, who have traditionally gained their livelihood from their herds, value their animals as a source of aesthetic inspiration and a link to the spiritual world. As highly prized commodities, beads are a sign of wealth and status among the Dinka peoples. The polychrome glass beads that make up this garment are European, while the cowries and fur skirt are undoubtedly of local origin."
Another description written that accompanied a series of famous published photographs, one included below, left:
"The tight beaded corsets indicate the men's position in the age-set system of the tribe. The corsets are first sewn in place at puberty and not removed until the wearer reaches a new age set. Each group wears a color-coded corset: a red and blue corset indicates a man between fifteen and twenty-five years of age; a yellow and blue one marks someone over thirty and ready for marriage." (reference source Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher, PASSAGES (Dinka).
"The Dinka beaded vest and corset shown in "Beads of Life" were collected in the southern Sudan during the mid-1990s. Ornaments of this type first came to the attention of the general public with Angela Fisher's Africa Adorned (1984), which instantly transformed the Dinka people into an exotic attraction at the very time when the Dinka were suffering from the war in the southern Sudan. Although worn only by the Dinka Bor, they have since acquired emblematic status among some Dinka war refugees, who make woollen versions of the corset and occasionally wear these for dances.
These ornaments probably appeared during the second half of the twentieth century as glass beads became available in greater quantities in the southern Sudan. They are apparently "extensions" of formerly existing belts for men and necklaces for women. The male corset is easily recognized by its "horn" (fungi), flinging itself toward the sky at the back of the body. Cowrie shells (gak) are sewn at the front and back of the female vest, probably to protect the wearer and ensure her fertility. Both corset and vest come in different colors, each linked to a particular age group. A man in his early twenties would have worn the corset, and a married woman in her late twenties the vest." (Source: Beads of Life: Eastern and Southern African Adornments by Mary-Louise Labelle)
|Lot ID: 120|
|Low Estimate: $3,500|
|High Estimate: $5,000|
|Next Bid: $1,750|
|Sale ID: 6|
|Sale Date: July 28, 2016|
|Sale Location: Virtual Auction|
|Sale Sponsor: African Artworks from Berz Gallery of African Art|
|Sale Terms: View here|
|Live Bidding Link: SALE CLOSED|
|Location of Origin: Africa|
|Medium/Materials: glass beads, fiber, cowrie shells, very old leather|
|Dimensions: 35" (88.9 cm) height x 11" (27.94 cm) x 18" (45.72 cm) depth, comes with custom made base which is easily assembled|
|Primary Classification: African Artwork, Ethnographic & Tribal Arts : African Art : Country - Other|
|Secondary Classification: African Artwork, Ethnographic & Tribal Arts : African Art : Object Type - Other|
|Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher, PASSAGES, same authors, "Dinka" and "Africa Adorned", 1984 Beads of Life: Eastern and Southern African Adornments by Mary-Louise Labelle|
|Provenance: Ex. Private Dutch Collection, acquired in 2015|
|Price:||Price on Request|
|Offered By:||CLOSED: African Artworks : 146 Lots : July 28-30|
|Contact:||The Curator's Eye|
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