Tellem Headrest from Mali. The Dogon people in Mali are well known in the African art world for creating some of the finest and most beautiful works. But they do not use headrests. This carved wooden headrest was found in the high caves of Mali, in Dogon land, and is thought to have belonged to a tribal predecessor to the Dogon – the Tellem. The Tellem used headrests like this one for burial ceremonies, though there are few particulars that we know of their culture because they disappeared over 700 years ago. The examples of similar headrests from these people date from the 11th to the 13th centuries. It is likely that many of these headrests may have earlier roots, as similar headrests come from Dynastic Egypt.
Calabar Headrest from Nigeria. Our second profile today is of an ancient Calabar headrest found in Nigeria. This very rare terracotta creation is anthropomorphic in style. A close examination reveals the presence of two “eyes” and a “mouth” on the form. As an example of early pottery from the region, this piece would make an exceptional addition to any collection.
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