SALE END DATE AND TIME
July 31, 2016 : SALE CLOSED
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Historically, magical calabashes were used as containers for medicines, sacred oils, powders, and other ‘charged’ substances among different Tanzanian peoples, including the Luguru Tribe. The calabashes 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 calabash was an important step in activating a calabash’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 calabash or 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 piece is almost entirely composed of the color black. The black color signifies that this calabash would have been used primarily to combat malevolent forces. To the Kwere and several other regional tribes like the Zigua or Pare, 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 calabash 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. 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”). Related examples of important Tanzanian medicine containers include a Kwere tribe medicine gourd from the permanent collection of the National Museum of African Art (Smithsonian Institution) and a Zaramo tribe medicine gourd that was auctioned by Sotheby’s Paris in 2009 for €12,500. From an examination of the surface and the amount of wear on the surface of the calabash and the figure, it can be asserted that the piece dates to the early 20th century. It shows naturally occurring evidence of age, and has had a significant amount of oil applied to the figure over time.
|Lot ID: 122|
|Low Estimate: $1,500|
|High Estimate: $3,500|
|Next Bid: $800|
|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: calabash, ritual oils, wood stopper, glass beads, fiber, oils, stain, encrustation from shrine applications|
|Dimensions: 11.5" (29.21 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. Private Collection Al Farrow, US, (renowned American artist/sculptor, work featured 2008 and 2009 at Museum of Fine Arts, San Francisco, in “In the Name of God: War, Religion, and the Reliquaries of Al Farrow”, and multiple museum shows)|
|Price:||Price on Request|
|Offered By:||CLOSED: African Artworks : 146 Lots : July 28-30|
|Contact:||The Curator's Eye|
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