Ethnographica & Tribal Art

This category comprises artefacts and works of art made by indigenous peoples.

It began as a collecting area when anthropologists began acquiring and studying these items in the 19th century. Nowadays works are valued for their craftsmanship and decorative quality as well as for their historical and social interest.

The geographical spread in this sector ranges from Oceanic (Pacific Islands, Australia and New Zealand), African, Native American and South American art. Pre-Columbian works represent a sought-after sector – art from the Americas dating from before the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492.


23 March 2004

THE 330-lot tribal art sale at Blanchet & Associés (17.94% buyer’s premium) back on January 30 featured 173 pre-Columbian pieces. These achieved a 70 per cent take-up, with a top price of €14,500 (£10,000) for a polished stone ritual Hacha from Guatemala, right, 9 1/2 x 7 1/2in (24 x 19.5cm), whose relief decoration took the form of the profiled face of a dead man, topped by the giant, curved fang of the sacred serpent.

Prices take flight for ancient feathered art

11 December 2003

Halphen’s array of pre-Colombian feather textiles from Peru dated back to 100AD. Such textiles continued to be made until the Spanish invasion, and were often used as currency by the Incas; the conquistadors, though, suspected them of having mystical powers, and destroyed them whenever they could.

Tribal art sets out to explore Hammersmith

24 October 2003

TEXTILES are currently a popular commodity and Wimbledon organiser Paola Francia-Gardiner, who operates as P&A Antiques, has two fairs next month catering for this still expanding market.

Enticing mix, with tribal art thrown in

30 May 2003

SELDOM do niche fairs catch on so quickly as the splendid Hali Antique Carpet and Textile Art Fair, the sixth of which which will be held in its new location of Level One of Olympia 2 from June 5 to 8.

Christie’s refocus tribal art sales

05 March 2003

Christie’s have announced two appointments to their tribal art department as they refocus their international programme of sales in this field. Tim Teuten, formerly head of Christie’s tribal art in New York and London, but more recently an independent consultant to the auctioneers, is to head the department. It will be based in Paris where he will oversee the organisation of sales and hold auctions twice a year.

Mapping tribal art

14 January 2003

The Tribal Arts of Africa by Jean-Baptiste Bacquart, published by Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0500282315 £18.95pb

Wood yew believe it? Burr cabinet rates a £5200 bid

21 November 2002

Robert Finan has been holding these specialist sales at the Ship Hotel for six years and next year intends to go quarterly. With the major UK auctioneers having shipped their tribal art departments to Continental Europe and America, the valuer’s biannual outings are just about the only chance for the serious connoisseur to root out African totems and Maori weapons from the colonial timecapsules of the British countryside.

Muted sideshow

23 October 2002

Presented with individual estimates of €35,000-50,000, two male and female Urhobo figures – just as large as the Urhobo figure sold at Sotheby’s, and possibly a matching pair – were the chief casualties at the mixed-provenance sale of African art (principally from Nigeria) assembled by Marie-Catherine Daffos and Jean-Luc Estournel for Lombrail-Teucquam (buyer’s premium 15%) at Drouot on the afternoon of September 30.

A 21-head salute to Freddy Rolin

29 August 2002

AMSTERDAM: It was a full house at the Christie’s Amsterdam(23.205% buyer’s premium) salerooms on July 2, when the one-off sale of African and Oceanic Art from the Estate of the late Baron Freddy Rolin took place.

From wallpaper to wall masks…

22 March 2002

Wall Masks of the 1950s: Beautiful and Exotic by Horst Makus, published by Arnoldsche Art Publishers, distributed by the Antique Collectors Club, ISBN 3897901536 £35hb

Amsterdam proves its worth as tribal art centre

21 June 2001

HOLLAND: Amsterdam is geographically well placed to hold tribal art sales for which there is an enthusiastic community of specialist dealers and collectors in Europe – in particular France and Belgium – as well as in America.

Statuettes withdrawn

01 May 2000

FRANCE: SEVENTEEN terracotta statuettes from Nigeria (Nok) and Niger (Bura), expected to bring prices between £250 and £5000, were withdrawn from sale at the Hôtel Drouot on April 21 after last-minute objections from Nigeria and Niger.