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Lot 0221
**Originally Listed At $900**

Eastern Africa, Tanzania, Sukuma peoples, ca. 20th century CE. A hand-carved wooden figure of an ancestor, with added fetish material of a nailed metal panel on the front of the body. The figure is clearly anthropomorphic, and posed dynamically, as if mid-dance, with the arms outstretched, legs separated and one bent. One of the hands reaches out in front of the figure, and its simple gaze - from eyes that, like the mouth, are just excavated rectangular cavities in the face - follows the hand. The fingers are clearly carved, whereas the feet are rounded and not naturalistic. The wood on the figure is painted a dark, deep orange-red; in some places the paint has worn or is thin enough that the original grain of the wood shows through it. Comes with custom stand. Size: 15" W x 27.5" H (38.1 cm x 69.8 cm); height on stand: 28.15" (71.5 cm)

The Sukuma people live in northern Tanzania, in small villages headed by chiefs. Secret societies and belief in sorcery abound in these communities. These figures, which are sometimes called mabinda or dance figures, were hugely scandalous to early Christian missionaries in the first half of the twentieth century because of their sensuous, dancer-like poses. Some examples even have articulated limbs and male genitalia, although most are like this one, of undetermined sex. The figures are used in theatrical performances and to mark graves. They also serve as an important part of a chief's wealth.

Provenance: ex-collection of Alan Davis, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

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Surface cracking from age and handling. One foot is partially lost.

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