Tribal Art London starts the season

Tribal Art London kicks off the busy autumn fairs season in the UK’s capital city, celebrating its 10th year with the biggest event so far comprised of 32 exhibitors.

A diverse selection of works will be for sale, ranging in price from the low hundreds to over £20,000. International and well-known tribal art collectors attending the event will include specialist in Oceanic art, Hawaii-based Mark Blackburn; collectors of Aboriginal and Oceanic art Sam and Sharon Singer from the US; Italy’s Antonio Lunari, and African art collector Jonathan Lowen (UK).

Alongside artwork, the fair will host lectures and talks on many subjects relating to indigenous cultures, with this year’s focus on the history and development of tribal tattoos, including a talk by Dr Karen Jacobs of the University of East Anglia. Martin Poole, an expert in the technique of hand tapped tattoos, will be giving live demonstrations.

Ligbi Mask
The Ligbi mask

Other highlights at this year’s fair include:

A bold Ligbi mask from Ivory Coast; this highly anthropomorphic face mask from the Ligbi people is carved in wood, with pigments, cloth and fibres measuring 30cm in height, and comes with a prestigious provenance, offered by new exhibitor Mark Eglinton of New York.

Duoala chief's stool
Duoala chief’s stool

An exceptional and early Douala chief’s stool from Cameroon, with wonderful carved animal figures, dating to the 19th century, offered by Adam Prout Ethnographic Art (priced at £1,800).

A fine Mahdi tunic, known as a Jibba, made in 19th century Sudan of cotton and wool appliqué, probably Stroud cloth. This would have belonged to a high ranking leader in the Mahdist army and probably dates to the period just after the fall of Khartoum at which point the Mahdist army acquired British manufactured wool, probably taken from uniforms. The panels represent the virtues of poverty and humility, and the small pocket would have held a charm consisting of leather wrapped pages of the Koran. Very few examples of this quality exist outside of museum collections; a similar example can be seen in the British Museum. Offered by Adam Prout Ethnographic Art (£17,000)

Zulu vessel
Zulu lidded vessel

An impressive, deeply carved 19th century Zulu prestige lidded vessel from KwaZulu, South Africa. Wooden vessels such as these were the preserve of chiefs and other persons of stature within the tribe. They were sometimes given as ‘diplomatic gifts’ to visiting Europeans and missionaries. This is a particularly fine example, the design avoiding the naturalistic and as a consequence appearing very abstract. Offered by Marcuson & Hall (Price in the region of £13,500)

A remarkable early survivor of the Nasca era in Peru, a highly colourful feather skirt dating to around the 4th to 6th century CE (AD) offered by Joss Graham Gallery.

A superb Lwena staff, perhaps one of the most beautiful and important on the market today, made in Angola or Zambia , featuring a beautifully-carved female figure wearing typical coiffure. Widely published and with a wonderful provenance, the staff is offered by David Malik. (£10,500)

An Ashanti weight

Weigh to gold – a brass weight, 18th or 19th century made by the Ashante of Akan, Ghana, for weighing gold, depicting a traditional hunter with and leopard on his back. There was a rich tradition in Ghana of making gold weights since the 17th century. Formerly in the Seward Kennedy collection, London, it is offered by Bryan Reeves/Tribal Gathering (£750)

A royal cup carved with a supporting foot, Lele (a sub-group of the Kuba people), Congo, 19th century. In fine condition, and standing 17cm in height, this early palm wine cup is from a royal household.  Offered by Ian Shaw. (£3000)

Yoruba horse rider, Nigeria, early 20th century. Such figures were placed on altars in shrines or displayed at special ceremonies. Leaders and ancestors were often displayed on horseback to support their status and depict strength and power. Offered by new exhibitor Emmanuel Amelot of Belgium. (£4,500)

Tribal Art London takes place from September 6-9 at Mall Galleries, The Mall, London.

Read an interview with exhibitor Adam Prout, joint organiser of Tribal Art London.

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