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African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian Art
Sotheby's
10:15 AM, May 9, 2006
African and Oceanic Art Lots 1-76
Pre-Columbian Art Lots 101-232
Sale 8199

New Caledonian male figure

Lot 22, New Caledonian male figure, 10 inches high

By Carter B. Horsley

Once again, Sotheby's is combining its African and Oceanic Art and its Pre-Columbian Art auctions in one catalogue and holding them on the same day, May 9, 2006. The overall auction is relatively small in quantity and has few spectacular works.

Oceanic Art

The Oceanic Art section of the auction is highlighted by a very fine Maori treasure box and a Maori tattoo pigment container and a New Caledonian male figure and an Admiralty Islands war charm, and a New Guinea Western Highlands stone anteater, and a Davak, Kalimantan baby carrier and an Irian Jaya, Cenderawash Bay, Doreh, male ancestor figure.

Lot 22 is a "fine and rare" New Caledonian male figure that is 10 inches high that is notable for its very exaggerated calves and foreshortened arms. The figure has a glossy reddish brown patina and the face has "a solemn expression of slightly parted lips with downcast eyes and ridged brow and circular ears. The property was consigned by the Masco Corporation and was formerly in the collection of Mattias Komor in New York and Wayne Heathcote of London and Brussels and the catalogue notes that it is "possibly from the Museum fur Volkerkunde Frankfurt am Main collection.

The lot has an estimate of $35,000 to $45,000. It sold for $156,000.

Maori treasure box

Lot 3, Maori treasure box, 26 inches long

Lot 3 is an excellent Maori treasure box that is 26 inches long. The box has tiki figures on either side with haliotis shelleyes and the box is elaborately incised with linear and dentate motifs. The catalogue notes that "A Maori chief's head was especially sacred, or tapu. Any item that touched his head or was worn about his head or neck was also sacred, and could harm other people if they were not of equivalent rank. Feathers, combs, ear pendants, hei-tiki pendants and the like were therefore placed in a waka huia, or tresure box,which was hung from the rafters of a chief's house for protection."

The lot has a modest estimate of $15,000 to $25,000. It sold for $13,000.

Maori tattoo pigment container

Lot 5, Maori tattoo pigment container, 3 1/2 inches high

Lot 5 is a small Maori tattoo pigment container that is pierced twice at the rim and carved in relief with a sequence of tikis figures and tiki faces with incised concentric spirals. The object, which is 3 inches high, was consigned by the Masco Corporation and was once in the collection of Harry G. Beasley of Chislehurst, England, J.J. Klejman of NewYork and Wayne Heathcote of London and Brussels.

It has an estimate of $15,000 to $20,000. It sold for $108,000.

Admiralty Islands war charm

Lot 23, Admiralty Islands war charm, 20 7/8 inches long

Lot 23 is an impressive and "superb" Admiralty Islands war charm that is 20 7/8 inches long. It was consigned by the Masco Corporation and collected by Captain Karl Nauer circa 1905 and was once in the collection of Carl Monzino of Lugano. The catalogue notes that the figure has a protruding tongue, exaggerated oval ears and openwork lobes and wears a wedge-shaped helmet and wears a collar of glass beads and dog teeth and has a cascade of frigate bird feathers. "The Masco war charm exhibits a special sculpture grace and refinement of execution with its open work neck, ears and soft naturalism of the face," according to the catalogue.

The lot has an estimate of $25,000 to $35,000. It sold for $42,000.

Dayak, Kalimantan, baby carrier

Lot 26, Dayak, Kalimantan, baby carrier, 15 inches high

Lot 26 is an impressive baby carrier from Dayak, Kalimantan. It is15 inches high and is property from the collection of the Descendants of Marga Victoria Schindler. The catalogue observed that such carriers "were used to carry only the babies of high-ranking members of society," adding that "the carrier itself, as well as the motifs - the udoq faces and the charms attached by the baby's mother after various naming ceremonies - were all intended toprotect the baby from malevolent spirits."

The lot has a modest estimate of $18,000 to $22,000. It failed to sell.

New Guinea stone anteater

Lot 24, New Guinea, Western Highlands, stone anteater, 9 inches high

Lot 24 is a stone anteater from the Western Highlands of New Guinea. The catalogue noted that "these figures, thought to be prehistoric, exhibit a sense of delicate balance of form as well as a refinement of surface incongruous to the arduous technique required to hone the stone." The object is 9 inches high and was consigned by the Masco Corporation and was once in the collection of Wayne Heathcote of London and Brussels. It has an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It failed to sell.

Male ancestor figure

Lot 27, male ancestor figure, Irian Jaya, Cenderawash Bay, Doreh, 12 inches high

Lot 27 is a fine male ancestor figure from Irian Jaya, Cenderawash Bay, Doreh. It is 12 inches high and was consigned by the Masco Corporation. The object, which has a diminutive figure standing in front of the larger figure, has a fine patina. It has an estimate of $12,000 to $18,000. It sold for $72,000.

African Art

The African Art section of the auction is highlighted by a Sango reliquary guardian figure, a Mitsogho anthropomorphic musical instrument, and a Bembe mask.

Senufo staff

Lot 41, Senufo staff, 47 inches high

Lot 41 is a "rare" Senufo staff that is 47 inches high. The base of the staff is a female figure with elongated cutaway arms who supports threee stacked discs beneath a similar carved male figure who supports ten stacked discs beneath a standing bird. The lot has an estimate of $18,000 to $22,000. It sold for $19,800.

Five currencies

Lot 49, five African currencies, tallest 19 inches

Lot 49 is a fine group of five African currencies, the tallest of which is 19 inches. The group is impressive and the tallest piece is a great abstraction. The lot has a very modest estimate of $4,000 to $6,000. It failed to sell.

Ekoi headrest

Lot 54, Ekoi headrest, 10 5/8 inches high

Lot 54 is an impressive multi-faced Ekoi headrest that is 10 5/8 inches high. The rattan base supports five heads baring inset teeth. The lot has an estimate of $12,000 to $18,000. It sold for $12,000.

Bekom chief's mask

Lot 55, Bekom chief's mask,17 inches high

Lot 55 is a "fine" Bekom chief's mask that is 17 inches high. The maskis known as an akam and the catalogue notes that "addition of prestigious materials: cowrie shells, beads and copper, indicate that this mask was owned by a member of the royal family," adding that "Before a dance, as on the occasion of a death ceremony, the masks were renewed by the application of camwood powder or oil and other substances perceived to be potent." It quotes an expert that "this mask was in the possession of the Fon of Nkochi, Nkor District, Banso Province and has been passed down over three generations.

The lot has an estimate of $15,000 to $25,000. It sold for $14,400.

Sango reliquary guardian figure

Lot 56, Sango reliquary guardian figure, 7 inches high

Lot 56 is a charming Sango reliquary guardian figure that is 7 inches high. The head is overlaid with thin strips of brass and has button eyes. It has an estimate of $12,000 to $18,000. It failed to sell.

Lot 65 is an Benelulua male figure that is 7 inches high. The lot has an estimate of $7,000 to $10,000. It sold for $7,000.

Bembe mask

Lot 72, Bembe mask,18 1/8 inches high

Lot 72 is a "rare" Bembe mask that is 18 1/8 inches high. The catalogue notes that "the elegant and abstract plank masks with their deeply carved eye sockets were used throughout the Bembearea in regional variants of the butende circumcisionrites." The lot has an estimate of $25,000 to $35,000. It sold for $84,000.

 

Pre-Columbian Art

The Pre-Columbian Art section of the auction is highlighted by a large Vicus figure, a Huari tapestry tunic, a Chupicuaro standing figure, a Veracruz figure on a dais, and a Veracruz stone hacha of a bird.

Vicus figure

Lot 101, Vicus figure, circa A.D. 100-500, 15 3/8 inches high

Lot 101 is a large and elegant Vicus figure, circa A.D. 100-500. The 15 3/8-inch-high figure was once in the collection of Andre Emmerich Inc. It has an estimate of $5,000 to $7,000. It sold for $42,000.

Huari tapestry tunic

Lot 112, Huari tapestry tunic, Highlands, Middle Horizon, circa A.D. 500-700, 43 by 44 inches

Lot 112 is an impressive Huari tapestry tunic from Highlands, Middle Horizon, circa A.D. 500-700. The tunic measures 43 by 44 inches and was exhibited by the Edward H. Merrin Gallery in 1988. The tunic is finely woven in camelid wool in two panels, each with two columns of rectangular images of the winged puma-headed attendant in a highly abstracted form.
The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"Andean textiles are one of the great legacies of Pre-Columbian art. At the time of the Spanish explorations in the 16th Century, textiles, prized over gold and silver, were the first gifts offered by the Inca to the Spanish. To this day they represent the longest continuous textile recorded in world history. The expansionist Huari empire flourished by the 6th to the 9th centuries and was based in the Highland region north of Lake Titicaca. Controlling nearly all of present day Peru, Huari rulers drew upon the important religious iconography from the ceremonial center of Tiahuanaco….Andean weaving was an elaborate process which involved the collaboration of different levels of society. Many fabrics were produced in the coastal regions, but those composed solely of silken camelid fiber for the warps and wefts were probably from the heartland mountain area...These elaborate garments, made in tapestry technique, took an enormous amount of labor and material - some tunics requiring six to nine miles of thread."

The lot has an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000. It sold for $162,000.

Chupicari standing figure

Lot 167, Chupicari standing figure, Late Preclassic, circa 300-100 B.C., 15 inches high

Lot 167 is a wonderful Chupicari standing figure, Late Preclassic, circa 300-100 B.C. It is 15 inches high and has marvelous decoration. It has an estimate of $15,000 to $20,000. It sold for $39,000.

Jalisco ritual platform group

Lot 168, Jalisco ritual platform group, Ameca style, Protoclassic, circa 100 B.C.-A.D. 250, 9 inches high

Lot 168 is a good Jalisco ritual platform group, Ameca style, Protoclassic, circa 100 B.C.-A.D. 250. The 9 -inch-high object represents a feasting scene with the central female supported on a backrest and holding a tamale or maize ear to her mouth, flanked by two female attendants each with their arms around her shoulder and a small dog is opposite. The lot has a modest estimate of $8,000 to $12,000. It failed to sell.

Lots 171 and 172 are very good and expressive Chinesco figures, Type E, Protoclassic, circa 100 B.C.-A.D. 250. The former is 8 inches high and has an estimate of $10,000 to $15,000. It sold for $16,800. The latter is 11 3/8 inches high and has an estimate of $20,000 to $40,000. It sold for $36,000.

Chinesco female figure

Lot 183, Chinesco female figure, Type E, Protoclassic, circa 100 B.C.-A.D. 250, 8 inches high

Another good Chinesco object from the same period is Lot 183, a female figure that is 8 inches high. It is notable for its slender arms and distinctive red paint markings. It has an estimate of $3,500 to $4,500. It sold for $3,000.

Veracruz figure on a dais

Lot 186, Veracruz figure on a dais, Remojadas, Protoclassic/Early Classic, circa A.D. 100-450, 9 inches high

Lot 186 is an excellent Veracruz figure on a dais, Remojadas, Protoclassic/Early Classic, circa A.D. 100-450. The 9-inch-high object is, according to the catalogue, "displaying an ailment and supported on a bench with effigy posts, the entire body bound with knotted cords. The object was once in the collection of Edward Merrin Gallery. It has an estimate of $4,000 to $6,000. It sold for $6,000.

Veracruz stone hacha

Lot 192, Veracruz stone hacha of a bird, Classic, A.D. 450-650, 15 inches high

Lot 192 is an impressive Veracruz stone hacha of a bird, Classic, A.D. 450-650. The 15 -inch-high hacha has an estimate of $70,000 to $100,000. It sold for $90,000.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"This sculpture is an exceptional example of the avian hacha type. Hachas and palmas are ceremonial trophies for the ritual ballgame. Adorning the players before and after a game, they were attached by tenons and notches made to overlap the top of the yoke. These stone sculptures were worn for prestigious events."

See The City Review article on the Fall 2005 African & Oceanic art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2005 African & Oceanic Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2004 African & Oceanic Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2004 African & Oceanic Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2003 Tribal Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2003 Tribal Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2002 Tribal Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2002 Tribal Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2001 African & Oceanic Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2000 African and Oceanic Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 1999 African and Oceanic Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 1999 African and Oceanic Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 1998 Sotheby's African and Oceanic Art auction

See The City Review article on the Spring 1998 Sotheby's African and Oceanic Art auction

See The City Review article on the Spring, 2000 Pre-Columbian Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 1999 auction of Pre-Columbian Art at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the November 1998 Pre-Columbian auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 1997 American Indian Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 1998 American Indian art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 1999 American Indian Art auction at Sotheby's

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