Malagan figure used for ceremonial and other functions, €24,000 (£20,870) at Zemanek- Münster.

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They were part of funerary rites, but also had a multitude of functions, honouring ancestors and affirming aspects of life.

By tradition, many of the figures were destroyed at the end of the ceremonies, but others did find their way into the hands of museums or private collectors.

One such piece came into the German Colonial Museum in Berlin sometime before 1915. In that year, the museum was closed and much of its inventory was purchased by the Linden Museum in Stuttgart.

More recently, it belonged to a collector in Munich and on November 11, it came under the hammer at Zemanek-Münster (25% buyer’s premium) in Würzburg as part of his legacy.

The 4ft 1in (1.24m) high stylised human figure of carved wood with coloured pigments, partly inlaid with shells and red seed kernels was not in pristine condition, but that did not deter the bidders.

The successful European collector bid €24,000 (£20,870), almost two-and-a-half-times the lower estimate.

Initiation purpose


Ivory iginga figure from the eastern Congo, €34,000 (£29,565) at Zemanek- Münster.

Later in the sale, another European collector secured an anthropomorphic ivory iginga figure from the eastern Congo. The 6in (15cm) high figure was used in initiation ceremonies.

This particular example could be dated to 1937 at the latest. From that time, it had passed through the hands of collectors in France and the US and was now in the catalogue with a guide of €25,000-50,000.

The new owner was taken to €34,000 (£29,565).