FALLS CHURCH, Va. – On Oct. 22, Quinn’s of northern Virginia will offer an outstanding boutique auction of 151 ethnographic artworks, including cultural relics of Native American, Pre-Columbian and African tribes and civilizations. Bidding methods for this sale include absentee, phone or live via the Internet; no in-person floor bidding. Bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.
The fully curated auction includes a high-quality selection of Native American paintings, ceramics and Navajo rugs; as well as fine African and Pre-Columbian figures, masks and utilitarian objects. Many of the pieces have prestigious provenance.
The sale’s top Pre-Columbian highlight is an important Veracruz (Mexico) carved stone palma dating to 600-900 CE. It is similar to examples in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection. Named for their palm-frond shapes, palmas were part of the elaborate regalia worn by players during ritualistic Mesoamerican ballgames and typically have a motif that reflects the game’s theme of sacrifice. A palma would be attached to a stone yoke worn around the waist and serve a practical purpose by protecting the player’s chest and vital organs. The auction example, which is decorated with the profile of a bird in bas relief, is estimated at $8,000-$12,000.
Standouts from an incredible auction selection of 38 African masks are led by a copper Dinga Ngongo Munene creation from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This impressive mask is associated with a Dinga earth chief, and would have been used during funerals, commemorations, ceremonies, and initiation rites for young boys. Mounted on a wood stand, it is offered with a $3,000-$5,000 estimate.
A 20th-century Vuvi ancestor mask from Gabon would have been an instrumental part of bwete/bwiti initiation ceremonies for young people in the tribal community. It was crafted from wood, kaolin (representing Ngonde, the moon) and other pigments. Previously, this mask was part of a private New York collection. It is now being presented by Quinn’s with a $2,000-$3,000 auction estimate.
Another 20th-century artwork, a “totem-style” Yoruba Epa mask from Nigeria is made of wood and pigment, and has detachable bird finials. It is representative of a type used during ceremonies to commemorate ancestral warriors. A similar mask can be found at the Brooklyn Museum. Auction estimate: $1,500-$2,500.
Male figures of carved wood have long been a part of the art traditions of African tribes, and several excellent examples from the Democratic Republic of the Congo are featured in the October 22 auction. Among them are a 20th-century Hemba figure, estimate $1,500-$2,500; and a late-19th-century Teke figure with an extensive line of provenance that includes: Cecile Kerner, Brussels; a private Australian collection, Dr. John Dintenfass of New York City, James Stephenson of New York City, and a third private New York City collection. It is estimated at $1,500-$2,500.
A Bembe figure, also from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was made from wood and nails, and has ceramic eyes. The 11-inch figure was previously held in private European and American collections, and also sold at Bonhams’ May 15, 2013 auction in New York (Lot 149). Quinn’s auction estimate is $1,000-$2,000.
A late 19th/early 20th-century Dan figure from the Poro Society, Liberia, is a well-executed, interestingly detailed bronze mounted on a wood stand. The Poro Society is a secret fraternal group with its own special rituals, language, tattooing and symbols. Its origins date to as early as 1000 A.D. The Dan/Poro figure to be auctioned comes with provenance from John J. Klejman, New York; and a second private New York collection. It is expected to make $1,500-$3,000 on auction day.
A colorful creation from Guinea, West Africa, a Baga a-Bamp bird headdress has detachable male and female figures and bird finials. The 20th-century artwork was carved from wood and smoothly finished with pigment. The artwork is a whimsical depiction of human riders struggling to remain on the back of a wonderfully decorated, long-billed bird. It measures 29½ by 19 by 20½ inches and is estimated at $1,500-$2,500.
Three beautiful mid-20th-century Navajo rugs are entered in the sale. A natural-dye rug measuring 14ft 6 inches by 9ft 6 inches displays an appealing gold, gray and white pattern and is expected to make $400-$600. A circa-1940s rug, 5ft by 3ft 10 inches, was executed in red, black, white and gray, and comes to auction with a $300-$400 estimate. From a similar time period, a 4ft 11-inch by 3ft 6-inch rug has a dense sawtooth pattern and is estimated at $200-$300.
Quinn’s Thursday, Oct. 22, auction will start at 2 p.m. EDT. For additional information about any item in the auction or to discuss a future consignment, call Charlotte Taylor at Quinn’s, 703-532-5632 ext. 526, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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