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.

Australia launch probe into Aboriginal art trade

18 April 2006

THE Australian government has acted to protect indigenous artists following media reports that exposed exploitation and corruption in the Aboriginal art world.


Thieves get away with valuable artefacts in attack on auctioneer’s parked car

19 November 2004

VALUABLE Native American artefacts were stolen in a smash-and-grab raid on an auctioneer’s car in Surrey last week. A substantial reward is being offered for the safe return of the stolen items.


Paris Tribal trail puts on a show of strength

16 September 2004

OVERLAPPING with the start of the Biennale (September 15-19) will be the third annual Parcours des Mondes, a Left Bank gallery trail featuring 50 tribal art dealers.


Benin bronzes prove the prize catch

07 July 2004

THE highlight of Christie's (20.93/11.96% buyer's premium) sale on June 14 was this 16in (40cm) high Benin bronze plaque (c.1580-1620), right, featuring a warrior chief, brandishing a sceptre in his right hand and a short eben sword in his left. The plaque, formerly owned by Edgar Dimsey, a surgeon on the British punitive expedition to Benin in February 1897, retained sharp detailing and sold to a European collector for a hefty €450,000 (£300,000) against an estimate of €150,000-200,000.


Tongan pillow talk of the day at £8600

22 June 2004

THE quality of the Salisbury sales held by Woolley & Wallis (15% buyer’s premium) has been previously mentioned in these pages of late and the 470-lot May 10 event was a case in point. Billed as a furniture, clocks and works of art sale, there were highlights across the sections, including a William IV rosewood chaise longue with a wonderful scroll end at £3200 and a 10 1/2in (27cm) blue john urn with re-gilded ormolu mounts at £2600.


Fiesta time as Brussels opens its doors to colleagues and clients

10 June 2004

BRUSSELS have two similar events this month, both of which are festivals rather than fairs, with specialist dealers mounting concurrent selling exhibitions, promoted jointly, and also inviting overseas specialists in the same discipline to show as guests in the Brussels galleries.

Big help

03 June 2004

SMALLER, more modest events, I am sure, benefit from the big fairs in town. Visitors to the Hali fair, for example, may well find the London Antique Textiles, Tribal Art and Decorative Antiques Fair on Sunday June 6 at Hammersmith Town Hall in King Street, London W6 to their liking.

Olympic links make common sense at the exotic Hali

28 May 2004

AT its seventh staging, the popular Hali fair at Olympia is undergoing some major changes, not the least of which is a name change. The event is now titled The Hali Fair: Carpets, Textiles and Tribal Art. The duration of the fair has been extended from four to 10 days and it will take place in the National Hall Gallery at Olympia from June 3 to 13, at the same time as the summer Fine Art & Antiques Fair. The fairs will be linked allowing easy access between the two.

Christie’s to continue Paris sales of pre-Columbian art

19 May 2004

ALTHOUGH they were one of three auctioneers forced to withdraw pre-Columbian works of art from sale last year over questions of provenance, Christie’s will continue to offer early South American items for auction in Paris.

Tribal mask works its magic in fells of Cumbria

19 April 2004

THE chances of finding good-quality tribal material in the remoter parts of Cumbria may be slim but a local vendor furnished Mitchells' (15% buyer's premium) 1294-lot March 4-5 outing with a 19th century African carved wooden headrest.


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