Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Yoruba Ibeji Twins

Ibeji figures represent deceased twins born to Yoruba mothers, who have the highest rate of twin pregnancies in the world. After a twin's death, this small, wooden effigy figure is fed, bathed, clothed, and offered the same loving care that Yoruba women lavish on living infants and especially surviving twins.

This pair of ibeji, from the Egba clan, present a marvelous example of classic Yoruba art. Darkened with a rich patina and sporting vivid coiffures, their deep tones of brown and blue are heightened by the sparing but effective addition of red beads, providing a gorgeous contrast of elemental hues. Scarifications present on the cheeks, chests, and arms complete the range of detail on these carefully crafted twins, subtly but eloquently evoking living identity and persona.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Art of Daily Life Enters its Final Week

Regarded as the finest showcase of Southern African art in recent years, The Art of Daily Life will enter its final week at the Cleveland Museum of Art on February 19. Through some seventy-five works from American private collections and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art, the exhibition resplendently celebrates the stunning formal diversity and cultural significance of Southern Africa’s artistic heritage. Despite having enjoyed a degree of growing interest and appreciation over the past three decades, the art of indigenous Southern African societies has long been largely neglected. The Art of Daily Life puts the works of these traditions––which so subtly bridge the planes of the mundane and sacred––under a spotlight to receive the recognition they so unreservedly deserve. 

Visit the official website here.

Staff attributed to the "Baboon Master"   Tsonga, South Africa   19th–20th century

Prestige vessel   Nguni, South Africa   19th–20th century
Woman's beaded apron   Nguni, South Africa   19th–20th century

Pipe with anthropomorphic bowl   Sotho or Nguni, Lesotho or South Africa   19th–20th century
Headrest    Shona or Tsonga, Mozambique, South Africa or Zimbabwe   19th–20th century

Images courtesy of the Cleveland Museum of Art

Friday, February 10, 2012

Tsonga Neckrest - South Africa

The above images depict a rare Tsonga neckrest with carrying handle in the form of a dance staff, the handle of which terminates in an elegant disk-shaped finial often found on North Nguni staffs. The gently curving handle is perfectly carved to allow the end of the handle to rest on the floor surface. South African neckrests with carrying handles are particularly rare.

Carved on the surface of the horizontal support are five parallel rows of fine dots carved in relief. These dots would have formed indentations in the face of the male sleeper, reminiscent of the scarification patterns on North Nguni women. These temporary facial patterns were said to be the source of much amusement.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

San Francisco Tribal & Textile Arts Show

The annual San Francisco Tribal & Textile Arts Show opened its doors to the public once again at the Fort Mason Center on Thursday, February 9. More than 100 dealers have gathered for this year's edition of the lauded salon, offering exquisite antiquities, artifacts, and folk art from traditional cultures across the globe.

Visit the show's official website here.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Ndebele Fertility Doll

Early twentieth century
Glass beads, sinew, wood
H: 9 1/2" W: 7"

Ndebele beaded fertility dolls are given to young girls when they attend initiation school. The doll is cared for and cherished until the woman's first pregnancy. According to custom, the child figure must be given away, sold or destroyed after the birth of the owner's third child, as it is considered unwise to keep the doll any longer.

Fertility dolls also play a significant role in courtship. A doll is placed outside the home of a prospective bride by her suitor, indicating his intention of a marriage proposal.

The doll pictured here presents a particularly fine example due to its age, condition and lovely beaded coiffure and front apron.

Jacaranda Tribal.com

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

L'Afrique au Quotidien : The Meynet Collection

In the year 2000, the Musée des Confluences in Lyon received an important donation of African objects on behalf of Michel and Denise Meynet, collectors driven by a passion to acquire objects which speak volumes about their cultures of origin. L'Afrique au quotidien, currently being presented by the MdC, invites visitors to experience the quality, diversity, and richness of an assemblage formed over the period of a decade. One of the foremost characteristics of the Meynet Collection is its focus on utilitarian objects––pieces which would normally be destroyed or discarded after a period of use. Animated by the desire to comprehend and exalt these objects, the Meynets have done their utmost to provide important documentation for most of the objects on display. L'Afrique au quotidien will be on view through March 3.

Incised gourd


Beaded apron


Images courtesy of the Musée des Confluences/P. Ageneau