Friday, September 25, 2009

Azande Hairpin and Islamic Writing Board Profiles

While many of the objects in our selection of the Ginzberg Collection are commonly collected and traded, others are rarer. Earlier this week, we showed you a set of pipes and a headrest, this week we’ll bring you an exceptionally fine and intricately carved Azande Hairpin and a Writing Tablet from Sub-Saharan Africa.

Azande Hairpin from the Sudan or Congo
. This hairpin is made from ivory and has a very interesting and unusual form. In this case, a person’s hair was likely wound through and around the circular top of this hairpin. Hairpins like this fine example were mainly ceremonial, luxury or prestige objects and often owned by tribal leaders and created by the finest African artists.

Writing Board from Nigeria, Chad or Sudan. This is an incredibly fine object from the Ginzberg Collection and certainly not something that you’ll see every day in fine art collections. Tablets like this one were used widely across Islamic Africa including in Nigeria, Chad and Sudan. Writing boards were used as a slate in order to help school boys practice their writing skills, specifically to help them learn Arabic. Additionally, some individuals kept boards with a chapter of the Koran inscribed on to them, to use as a devotional object. The writing board that we have on display is particularly extraordinary as one can see the faint remains of a verse of the Koran in ancient handwriting. It is truly an extraordinary piece and offers a rare insight into African educational and devotional practices.

Both of these objects, along with many others, are on view at Jacaranda Tribal’s website: And, remember, to check back to our blog next week for further profiles of objects in the collection.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dan Chair, Xhosa Pipes, Bena Lulua Headrest Profiles

For the next several weeks, we will be profiling specific pieces from the Marc & Denyse Ginzberg collection available at Jacaranda Tribal Art Gallery. A complete selection, including pictures and descruptions, of our exhibition of the collection can be seen at our website

Dan, Mano or Guere Chair from Liberia. Chairs like this fine example were utilized by their owner not only as private and personal objects but also as status markers and prestige objects for tribal chiefs. Dr J.H. Furbay, President of the College of West Africa in Monrovia, Liberia, from 1936 to 1938, reported that a chair was always carried by a chief’s attendant because it was believed that a Chief without his chair was without his dignity. In addition to the fine carving, this object has a distinctly fine patina obtained from years of valued use. As with all of the objects in the Ginzberg Collection, this chair is an exceptionally fine example of a late 19th century or early 20th century chair from the region.

Xhosa or South Nguni Pipes from South Africa. Pipes of all forms, shapes and materials have been used by people and tribes of Southern African for centuries. Africans used pipes in religious rites and other ceremonies, and more commonly for practical purposes. Many individuals in a tribe owned and used pipes as smoking was practiced by people of all ages and genders. Especially fine objects were seen as status markers or prestige objects for highly respected members of a tribe. These pipes, from the Ginzberg collection, are particularly interesting because they have a distinct European influence in their design while retaining clear local innovation and techniques. The intricate designs and motifs in these pipes were carved by master African artisans who then filled the groves with molten pewter lead.

Bena Lulua or Luba Headrest from Congo. In many African cultures, small wooden "pillows" were used to support the head during sleep and in some instances to preserve a hairstyle. The Ginzberg collection has many exceptionally fine examples, several of which are on display on our website. This fine example from the Congo boasts satisfying proportions and distinctly geometric and nonfigurative carving. In addition, the object has a deep red patina from decades of use.

We will be profiling additional objects in the coming weeks. Make sure to check back again.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Marc & Denyse Ginzberg Collection Offered at Jacaranda Tribal

Two years ago, in September 2007, the Marc & Denyse Ginzberg Collection of African Forms went on sale at the Sotheby’s auction house in Paris. The auction was unlike anything that had ever been offered before at Sotheby’s – there was no figurative sculpture, no masks, and indeed little that would mark a traditionally inclined African art collection. Instead the collection celebrated the utilitarian and the nonfigurative; it celebrated the mastery and creativity that the African artist can bring to the everyday object. The objects in the collection have pushed the boundary between form and function, being at once fine works of art and useful household objects. After forming a full and comprehensive collection, writing a popular book called African Forms, and widely exhibiting the collection in museums and galleries, the Ginzberg’s were reluctantly ready to part with it. It’s no surprise that an extraordinary collection by renowned collectors should fetch €1,032,000, with many works fetching world record prices.

Marc & Denyse Ginzberg pictured

The Ginzberg collection brought much deserved attention to an under-recognized field of African Art and has brought recognition to some very fine, nonfigurative works. Jacaranda Tribal has been fortunate enough to debut a select exhibition of the Ginzberg Collection. The exhibition includes a range of objects – all of very fine museum quality – from snuff containers to jewelry, hats to weapons. We are delighted to be able to offer such a fine collection of works to the public. Be sure to check back at our blog often, as we will be posting several blogs on individual works in the coming weeks.

These highly decorated knives from Zimbabwe and the Congo are part of the collection offered by Jacaranda Tribal