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.


Tribal art

Plea to recover huge collection of stolen tribal art

14 February 2024

Around 50 works of tribal art have been stolen in Belgium.

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Dealer Bruce Knight’s personal collecting taste was a cut above

05 February 2024

An 18th century Native American trade axe pipe linked to the great Shawnee chief and warrior Tecumseh (1768-1813) was the runaway performer when the collection of Ohio dealer and entrepreneur Bruce Knight was dispersed in the first days of the New Year.

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Native American mask makes 140 times the top guide

05 February 2024

A 19th century Native American wolf mask, once used in religious ceremonies on the Northwest coast, emerged from the obscurity of a £50-100 estimate to bring £14,000 at auction in Hertfordshire.

Wolf mask

Rare Northwest coast shamanic mask prompts tribal gathering in Royston

25 January 2024

A 19th century Native American wolf mask, once used in religious ceremonies on the Northwest coast, emerged from the obscurity of a £50-100 estimate to bring £14,000 at auction in Hertfordshire.

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Bear mask entranced medicine men

25 September 2023

Items from the Robert and Nancy Nooter collection of ethnographic art come for sale at Ararity Auctions in Lorton, Virginia, on October 1.

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Battersea Decorative fair runs with a new tribal twist

18 September 2023

The Decorative Fair returns from October 3-8 for its third and final staging of the year.

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Pioneering dealer Leloup’s collection up for sale at Sotheby's

12 June 2023

Sotheby’s is to offer the private collection of Hélène Leloup (b.1927), one of the major pioneering dealers in African and Oceanic Art.

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Australian cricketer bowls in and tribal art drums up support

05 June 2023

The Abacus sale on June 28-30 in Melbourne will feature an eclectic mix of material.

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Virtual tribal gathering: The Tribal Art Fair Online returns this month

10 April 2023

One of the most striking items on offer at 'The Tribal Art Fair Online' this month is a hammered brass ‘ogba’ anklet.

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It’s auction No 100 at ethnographica specialist saleroom

27 March 2023

Zemanek-Münster in Würzburg is holding its 100th auction on April 15 and has taken in some impressive pieces for the landmark

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Celebrity lawyer collection brings fame and fortune

20 March 2023

The new season got off to an encouraging start for Cologne auction house Lempertz (26% buyer’s premium) when it held an African and Oceanic art sale on February 1 in Brussels

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Tangible rewards in tough times

14 November 2022

UK auctioneer hails successful sale offering attractive investments to buyers worldwide

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Join the Oceanic collecting club

29 August 2022

A selection of Oceanic hardwood clubs and shields has come for sale at Sworders in Essex on November 9-10 as part of the auction of objects from the collection of dealer Jan Ellen Finch (1952-2021) of Finch & Co.

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Tribal art: Worlds of opportunity in Paris

29 August 2022

International array of visitors will be strolling the streets during the Parcours des Mondes to peruse and buy tribal art

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Shield buyer parries rival bidders

29 August 2022

Aboriginal shields come in two basic types: broad shields used for deflecting projectiles and the narrow, compact parrying shields used in close contact fighting.

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Fresh wave of demand on the cards

08 August 2022

Overseas interest in tribal art and Doulton Lambeth wares fuelled the higher prices at Cuttlestones’ (20% buyer’s premium) Penkridge sale but it was a new outbreak of cardomania which raised temperatures of collectors across England.

Fijian whale ivory hook carving

Pick of the week: Buyer hooked by Fijian whale ivory rarity

16 May 2022

Sperm whale teeth, acquired from mammals that had beached on local reefs, had a deep significance to Fijian society.

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Museums target Cook discoveries at Sloane Street Auctions

18 April 2022

A previously unrecorded family archive relating to Richard Grindall (1751-1820), an able seaman aboard Cook’s Second Voyage, surfaced for sale in London last week with spectacular results.

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The man behind the tribal mask

04 April 2022

Fang secret society relic comes with long provenance to French colonial governor

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Fang mask helps if you want to keep a secret

07 February 2022

A striking and well-provenanced example of an African mask from the Fang peoples of Gabon is to appear at an auction in the south of France on March 26.

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