NEW YORK – On Wednesday, January 26, starting at noon Eastern time, Jasper52 will hold a sale of Unique Tribal Art. The 172 lots include a range of carved and sculpted treasures that originated in Africa, particularly in the region now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Among them are Hemba ancestor figures; Fang reliquary figures; a Nyanga people mask; a Luba caryatid stool as well as a Luba musical instrument, known as a thumb piano; a Shi plank mask; and a Bembe initiation mask. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
Highlights of the sale include a large ancestor figure created by an unknown member of the Hemba people, who dwell in the province of Katanga between the Congo River and Lake Tanganyika. The example offered, which measures 28in tall sans base and carries an estimate of $2,000-$2,500, represents one of the Southern Niembo styles, known as the Sayi style. Hemba ancestor figures are prized inside and outside the tribal community. According to the lot notes, these figures aren’t just aesthetically compelling, they “Help their successors to legitimize their political power” and “they give off an impression of majesty and great serenity.”
Another compelling Hemba ancestor figure on offer in the January 26 Unique Tribal Art auction boasts what is described as a “very beautiful patina.” As with the sculpture discussed above, it is carved from wood and depicts a standing human figure in full. It measures 13 1/2in high without its base and is estimated at $2,500-$3,000.
A third lot that is certain to generate interest is a Shi plank mask, estimated at $900-$1,100. The Shi are a Bantu people who live mainly in the extreme east of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The wooden piece is described as a mask, and experts believe it is meant to represent a cultural figure who the Shi considered the Primordial Ancestor.
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