NEW YORK – Carved tribal art from Africa and around the globe is the focus of a Jasper52 online auction on Wednesday, March 14. A collection of nearly 100 vintage masks, sculptures and similar articles will be sold. Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.
A superb Baoule female figure from the Ivory Coast around the turn of the 20th century tops the featured lots. This formidable figure (above) exhibits unusual typology with curvy lines, deep honey patina and a nice face. Ex Yann Ferrandin Gallery, Paris, it has a $7,000-$7,500 estimate.
At least five of the auction lots have their origins in the Congo. A fine example of tribal art is a Songye kifwebe war mask from the second half of the 20th century. The auction catalog notes that striated face masks, known as kifwebe, probably originated in North Shaba, an area inhabited by both Songye and Luba groups. Among the small Songye chiefdoms along the Lomami River, maskers were emissaries of the ruling elite who relied on the ideology of witchcraft and sorcery to sustain their rule. These kifwebe members commanded a body of esoteric secret knowledge visually encoded mnemonically in the mask’s features.
Also from the Democratic Republic of the Congo is wooden slit drum (below) used by the Pende people during the second half of the 20th century. The 2-foot-long carved drum has a $600-$700 estimate.
The Bamana Empire was a large West African state in what is now Mali. The Jasper52 auction will feature a dramatic a ci wara, a ritual object representing an antelope, in this instance a mask, used by the Bambara ethnic group. It dates to late 19th century or early 20th century. From a private collection in Belgium, the mask has a $6,500-$7,000 estimate.
Two ancestor figures hail from Papua New Guinea and the mid-20th century. One is called a mindja and used in the Kwoma people’s initiation rituals and ceremonies in honor of the cultivation and harvesting of yams.
The other ancestor figure in the auction is a nogwi from the Kwoma people who live in the Peilungupo mountains north of the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea.The large statue is made of wood in classic sinuous abstract male form, decorated with polychrome pigments.
The masks and figures in this Jasper52 auction are imbued with stylized detail and tremendous depth of meaning.
The auction will be conducted Wednesday, March 14, starting at 6 p.m. Eastern time.