SALE END DATE AND TIME
July 31, 2016 : SALE CLOSED
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The Saamba (also known as Shambaa) people of Tanzania have not been heavily researched and, as only incomplete information exists about their figures and those of neighboring tribes such as the Zigua, Kwere, Mbugu, Pare, and Chaga. In studying and gathering information about the function of this important and spectacular fetish, is perhaps best to draw parallels with fetishes of neighboring tribes. In neighboring tribes and presumably the Saamba as well, diviners were believed to have the power to make medicine bundles (like the wrapped bundle forming the base of this wonderful figure), that gave their ‘possessors’ (i.e. the statue) the ability to diagnose a patient’s illness. In serious cases, the diviner, patient, and the healing statue would travel together deep into the bush to offer libations to the statue, and to expel ghosts from the patient. Fetish figures like this figure with both human and animal characteristics were historically placed in shrines and treated with great respect. The use of fetishes throughout the region is in fact a vital part of daily village life. Typically, a “remote” object such as this fetish will be “activated” by a diviner with the insertion or application of fetish material or in the hole in a figure, and then used as a channel for the spirits, and thus an intermediary for change. This piece has such a bundle at the base, with evidence of age, handling, and encrustation from the passage of time and applied materials. It may date as early as the 19th century. It bears a stunning resemblance to Giacometti’s renowned sculpture, “Lothar II” which is currently in the L’Hermitage and of which a photograph accompanies. This fetish also has exceptional provenance including being part of the famous William Brill collection.
Our experience with objects of this type and an analysis of the surface leads us to assert that the piece dates to the earliest part of the 20th century. As a result of the heavy historical application of oils to the wooden figure atop the fetish, the figure still secretes oil when heated.
|Lot ID: 126|
|Low Estimate: $8,000|
|High Estimate: $18,000|
|Next Bid: $7,000|
|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: wood (stopper), glass beads, applied oils, textile, bones, fiber, and whatever else is inside the wrap|
|Dimensions: 8.5" (21.59 cm) height x 7" (17.78 cm) depth x 4" (10.16 cm) width|
|Primary Classification: African Artwork, Ethnographic & Tribal Arts : African Art : Country - Tanzania|
|Secondary Classification: African Artwork, Ethnographic & Tribal Arts : African Art : Object Type - Statue|
|"The Shambala (Shambaa) are an important ethnic group consisting of over 500.000 people in the Usambara Mountains in the east of Tanzania, north of the Zigula and west of the Digo and Bondei. There are only a few figures attributed to the Shambala, and they also show quite different types of style. Like other ethnic groups in north-east Tanzania and Kenya, the Shamabala also use clay figurines, often wrapped round with cloth and provided with medicine, in the initiation ceremonies of boys and grils. Apart from those they also make terra-cotta figurines of a naturalistic character, as are also known from their neighbours the Mbugu, a Cushitic-speaking remnant, which was strongly assimilated by the bantoid Pare and lives west of the Usambara Mountains. Earlier at least around the turn of the century, the Shambala and the Mbugu used to produce partly naturalistic terra-cotta figures and busts. Some of these have strange leg and arm stumps, some are wound around with coarse material and all are distinguished by black lustrous slip and a fine dot-shaped pattern which was probably obtained by means of a textile print. The Shambala call the vizulu, vizuru or vinyuwa and, according to Roehl they are probably used for magic, but also for treating very severe illnesses. The neighbouring Mbugu possibly adopted the cult, but also produced specimens for Europeans.|
Source: Schaedler (Karl-Ferdinand), "Earth and Ore. 2500 Years of African Art in Terra-cotta and Metal", Munich: Panterra Verlag, 1997:310
The Zigula live on the north-eastern coast of Tanzania opposite the island of Zanzibar, north of the Kwere and Doe. In addition to the latter, the Bondei, Luguru and Nguru (Ngulu) are also included in the so-called Zigula Cluster. There are comparatively few wood objects that are known for certain to come from the Zigula; but there is - as in large areas of East Africa - a number of very expressive clay figurines that are used at the initiation ceremonies of boys and girls.
Source: Schaedler (Karl-Ferdinand), "Earth and Ore. 2500 Years of African Art in Terra-cotta and Metal", Munich: Panterra Verlag, 1997:311
|Provenance: Ex. James Stephenson (original certificate of authenticity and ownership included), NY, Ex. Collection William Brill, US, Ex. Drs. John and Nicole Dintenfass, NY, Ex. Robert Bohlen, Detroit, MI, , Ex. Christie's, Paris, 16 June 2009. Lot 132, Yale Archive #126708|
|Price:||Price on Request|
|Offered By:||CLOSED: African Artworks : 146 Lots : July 28-30|
|Contact:||The Curator's Eye|
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