SALE END DATE AND TIME
July 31, 2016 : SALE CLOSED
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Historically, magical calabashes and antelope horns such as this piece were used as containers for medicines, sacred oils, powders, and other ‘charged’ substances among different Tanzanian peoples, including the Pare, Kwere, Nyamezi, Zigua, Moshe, and other communities/tribes. The horns were often closed with beautifully carved wooden stoppers - miniature heads that mimicked larger sculptures and masks used by the tribe. Healers and diviners traditionally used them during curing, healing, or soothsaying rituals.
The process of adding objects charged with the therapeutic powers of the spirits to the outside of a medicine horn was an important step in activating a horn’s medicinal properties, and was even considered to be just as important as the container’s interior composition (the actual medicinal substance). The characterizing markers of a medicine horn were often also apparent from its exterior decoration. For example, a medicine container dressed in a skirt (kisegere) of white beads and cowrie shells would signify the embodiment of the white ocean spirit, Jeni Baha'i, who has the power to cleanse a patient who has been polluted with an illness.
This specific example of an early 20th century Zigua medicine horn and knotted decoration are composed of the color black, most of which has faded with time. The black color signifies that this horn would have been used primarily to combat malevolent forces. To the Zigua, black represents the protective powers of ancestral and local spirits but conversely also represents ushai, the malevolent behavior of anti-social individuals. The figure and horn would have been additionally empowered to combat ushai in conjunction with other objects that the diviner would have carried, like a figure with tightly bound legs (to represent the bondage of illness), a human figure with a monkey’s face (to represent the animalistic behavior of anti-social beings), or extracts from trees whose names are metaphorically related to notions of malevolency.
There were many different types of traditional healers throughout Tanzanian tribal societies more generally. Traditionally, one may have consulted an Ngemi wa Mbula for information and aid concerning rain, an Nfumu wa Ngoko, a chicken diviner, for advice on the future, or a Manga for spirit possession. Each doctor had their own methods; yet, most believe that their power for healing was dependent on the goodwill of their ancestors. Traditional doctors inherited shitongelejo, or objects of ancestral remembrance, from their ancestors. These objects, such as flywhisks, gourd rattles, or beaded headbands, were used in healing practices and were said to stimulate the aid of the ancestors in curing a patient. Just as each doctor had their own tools, methods, and followers, so too did they have personal and often elaborate and mystical shitongelejo (Ref: “Art Makonde: Tradition et Modernité”; Thompson, “Shambaa Ughanga: Converging Presences in the Embodiment of Tradition, Transformation and Redefinition”; United Nations Environment Programme, “Traditional Medical Practices in Tanzania”).
|Lot ID: 125|
|Low Estimate: $3,000|
|High Estimate: $6,000|
|Next Bid: $1,500|
|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: large antelope (kudu) horn, wooden stopper, fiber, rope, applied oils, nails,|
|Dimensions: 17'' (43.18 cm) height|
|Primary Classification: African Artwork, Ethnographic & Tribal Arts : African Art : Country - Tanzania|
|Secondary Classification: African Artwork, Ethnographic & Tribal Arts : African Art : Object Type - Other|
|Expertise: “Art Makonde: Tradition et Modernité”; Thompson, “Shambaa Ughanga: Converging Presences in the Embodiment of Tradition, Transformation and Redefinition”; United Nations Environment Programme, “Traditional Medical Practices in Tanzania, Bacquart, ''Tribal Arts of Africa"; Gesellschaft, "Kilengi"|
|Provenance: Ex. Alan Lecomte, Paris (original certificate of authenticity and ownership included)|
|Price:||Price on Request|
|Offered By:||CLOSED: African Artworks : 146 Lots : July 28-30|
|Contact:||The Curator's Eye|
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