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3668Re: [African_Arts] Re: Reliquary from Giacomo

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  • Lee Rubinstein
    Dec 16, 2008
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      An additional and very valuable resource  -- richly illustrated, with text in French and an English summary -- for those who have recently queried Mahongwe-style reliquary figures  is Louis Perrois' "L'Art Kota-Mahongwe:  Les figures funéraires du Bassin de l'Ivindo (Gabon-Congo) which appeared in Arts d'Afrique Noire 20 (Winter/Hiver, 1976), pp. 15-37.  The article is accessible on-line complete with illustrations at http://horizon.documentation.ird.fr/exl-doc/pleins_textes/pleins_textes_5/b_fdi_08-09/08873.pdf


      On Dec 15, 2008, at 6:58 PM, Lee Rubinstein wrote:


      You raise an interesting question regarding the inclusion of non-traditional elements in the contemporary crafting of reproductions of well-known traditional African forms.  The motivations for these "unexpected" or innovative inclusions are likely as diverse as they are ambiguous.  There are many traditional masks and figures which are used as the basis for contemporary reproductions and then embellished with animals and other decorative elements which generally do not appear in the original documented examples -- possibly because these added elements are believed to appeal to the intended buyer.  Too, reproductions are often created in workshops outside of the areas where the forms originate, and the introduction of anomalous elements may represent  the insertion of details common to works which are traditional in the areas of production rather than in the locales/cultures where the reproduced forms originate.  Who can say whether the motivation behind innovation is simply creative or intentionally deceptive and at what point in the commercial chain the suggestion of authenticity is attached to the object and by whom -- by the maker, the purveyor, the reseller?  When is the misidentification intentional, and when is it merely based on an erroneous assumption?

      With regard to aged appearance which can be quite convincing and highly suggestive of an object's age and authenticity, the practices to create patinas which correspond to collectors' preferences is well documented.  It is but one of the aspects of ambiguity and confusion that challenges the ability of collectors, appreciators and even museum curators to determine conclusively the age and authenticity of seemingly authentic works.  Among the publications that consider the various aspects of this difficulty is the April, 1976 issue of African Arts  (Vol. 9, Issue 3):  entitled FAKES, FAKERS, AND FAKERY: AUTHENTICITY IN AFRICAN ART.

      Some resources in Italian which you may find helpful in exploring some of the issues you query are included below:

      Perhaps other group members can suggest additional resources in Italian.  Qualcuno sa risorse aggiuntive?? ?

      Best, Lee 

      On Dec 15, 2008, at 4:10 PM, giacomomorganti wrote:

      Hello Lee,
      thanks for your very detailed response, you were very kind. Excuse my 
      I also thought that I could be a reproduction, but I do not 
      understand why they would have made a representation different from 
      the original inserting a figure very different from traditional ones. 
      This is my doubt, especially being able to see the way in which it 
      was achieved. I would deepen the study of this figure physically 
      submitting an expert in order to understand if one is playing or not. 
      I assure you that if a representation, is made really well in all the 
      details, including land, oxidation, wear, signs of the time! 
      Thanks in advance for the information that you can give me. 

      Best Regards

      --- In African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com, Lee Rubinstein 
      <LeeRubinstein@ ...> wrote:
      > Giacomo:
      > For more information about your reliquary figure, which is 
      > stylistically related to or inspired by Mahongwe Bwiti or Bwété 
      > reliquary forms, see recent Messages regarding both reliquaries 
      > the Mahongwe and the broader Kota cultural complex. Relevant 
      > include Message 3654 referring to the example recently offered at 
      > Sotheby's on Paris as Lot 138 as well as Message 3655 Several 
      > previous discussions with relevant links are also referenced in 
      > Message 3322 with which include various applicable references to 
      > studies by Louis Perrois and Alain Chaffin as well as the 2007 
      > exhibition, "Eternal Ancestors" at the Metropolitan Museum in New 
      > and the accompanying publication: Alisa LaGamma, Eternal 
      > The Art of Central African Reliquary (New York: Metropolitan 
      > of Art and New Haven/London: Yale University Press. 2007).
      > One element suggestive that the figure which you have presented may 
      > a commercial reproduction is the inclusion of the zoomorphic figure 
      > the reverse, an element of which I am not aware as an ordinary 
      > of such ritual objects. The referenced publications indicated in 
      > messages to which I have referred may provide you with comparative 
      > examples through which to determine more conclusively the origin 
      > function of the figure which you have presented.
      > Lee
      > On Dec 13, 2008, at 4:49 PM, giacomomorganti wrote:
      > > Hello, i am Giacomo from Italy.
      > > I recently acquired a reliquary for me very beautifull!! I have 
      > > an album, section Photos, link "Giacomo": 
      http://groups. yahoo.com/ group/African_ Arts/photos/ album/1253118286 /pic
      > > Excuse me for not very good photos!
      > > I hope to find information about this figure. I would like to 
      > > what
      > > you think and if you believe that it is a good piece.
      > > I would like to know also, as it is dirt and dust of the earth, 
      how to
      > > clean and restorations. What used to do the restoration? Thank you
      > > Giacomo
      > >
      > >
      > >

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