TRIBAL Art seems to one area bucking the credit crunch at present. Witness this superbly-patinated Shona hardwood headrest that was unearthed by South Down Auctioneers of Midhurst, West Sussex in a local home.
Headrests such as this, made by talented Shona sculptors across
modern-day South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique, serve multiple
purposes. In addition to providing a comfortable support for the
head when resting - and a means to keep the elaborately braided
coiffures of Shona men in good order and free from soil or dust -
they are among the most important personal items, imbued with
In particular they are used as a tool to make contact with the
spirits of the dead through dreams. The animals chosen for
representation are those considered best for communicating with the
ancestors - in this case a large mammal, possibly a stylised
elephant. It probably dates from the late 19th century.
Offered for sale on November 23, it was picked up on the-saleroom.com
and attracted competition from London, South Africa and North
America on the telephones as well as UK and Continental dealers in
the saleroom at Midhurst Grammar School.
The winning bidder at a multi-estimate £29,000 (plus 15 per cent
buyer's premium) was a French tribal art specialist.
Tribal Art also saw an upbeat performance at the sale of the
Rosenthal collection at Sotheby's New York on
November 14 that chalked up a premium-inclusive $10.85m (£7.75m )
with 87 per cent sold by lot and half a dozen new auction highs
amongst the individual prices.