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Re: [African_Arts] Re: original boni headrest

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  • Deborah Ferrara
    Hi, If anyone is interested in this headrest please let me know by Friday, I have a couple of offers and I am going to sell it soon. Thank you. ...
    Message 1 of 10 , Jul 17, 2006
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      If anyone is interested in this headrest please let me
      know by Friday, I have a couple of offers and I am
      going to sell it soon.

      Thank you.

      --- Rand Smith <rand@...> wrote:

      > Hello,
      > Thanks for posting the images of your Boni headrest,
      > it's a beauty in
      > my opinion. It is in a rarer style for Boni
      > headrests, so I have been
      > told.
      > There are a few basic styles and they each have
      > different meanings:
      > 1) Single post type with a single rounded (usually)
      > column as the
      > support.
      > 2) Double post type, which are the more commonly
      > seen ones that have
      > the 2 curved flattened supports like the top portion
      > of yours. There
      > are also double post designs with 2 circular curved
      > columns as the
      > supports.
      > 3) Column and post type that have a single rounded
      > column at the base
      > that leads to the 2 curved flattened supports
      > towards the top (like
      > yours)
      > According from what I have been told, and what I
      > have read, the
      > different types signify different status according
      > to age, and there
      > are possibly different statuses within the different
      > types.
      > Headrests that fall into (1) above- are for younger
      > men, lower status.
      > Headrests that fall into (2) above- are for elders,
      > higher status
      > Headrests that fall into (3) above- since they have
      > qualities from
      > (1) and (2) I would assume (my opinion only) that it
      > would signify a
      > mid-level status, but I have not read anything that
      > specifically
      > notes the significance of the headrests that have
      > qualities of both
      > like yours.
      > I don't have any good reference books that really
      > get into the
      > cultures of Somalia and Kenya, so I don't know if
      > there are age grade
      > initiation type ceremonies that the men pass through
      > that change
      > their status like is done in many cultures, or how
      > their status is
      > acheived.
      > I have been told that Boni headrests that are more
      > decorated signify
      > a higher status, no matter what the age of the
      > person may be - the
      > more elaborate the headrest is, the higher the
      > status is of its owner.
      > I have also read that they may be carved by the
      > owner, or
      > commissioned from an artist. One would assume that
      > someone of more
      > wealth / status would commission one from an artist,
      > and these
      > headrests would stand out because they would be more
      > finely carved
      > with more intricate detail.
      > The designs on the headrests are believed to be of
      > Islamic influence.
      > I have been told that the symbols on the top of the
      > headrests often
      > refer to a person's name (kind of a signature if you
      > will) signifying
      > ownership/identity.
      > I do not know how long there has been Islamic
      > influence in this
      > region, but that would/may help in identifying older
      > headrests from
      > newer ones simply based on style. Variations in
      > style and design may
      > also just be from individual artistic
      > interpretation.
      > I don't know how long the Boni and Somali people
      > have been making
      > headrests, and I don't know of any good reference
      > sources that list
      > ones that have very early documented collection
      > dates so we can see
      > the "older" styles and see if there has been a
      > dramatic change in
      > style over the years.
      > I have done some reading that discusses how the
      > headrests of this
      > region have an Egyptian influence to them. It talks
      > about the
      > migrations of some people down into the Somalia area
      > from Egypt, and
      > talked about the comparisons of the Boni/Somali
      > headrests to some of
      > the Egyptian headrests. It discusses the fact that
      > these people may
      > have influenced, or introduced these styles to this
      > region.
      > If you do a Google image search on "Egyptian
      > headrest", you will see
      > the strong similarities between the two:
      > http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=egyptian%
      > 20headrest&sa=N&tab=wi
      > The website of the American Museum of Natural
      > History in New York
      > identifies their headrests as being "Somali" instead
      > of Boni. They
      > acquired a large part of their collection of objects
      > in the early
      > 1900's
      > ),
      > but on their website they do not list acquisition
      > dates for the
      > Somali/Boni headrests in their collection. You will
      > see that the ones
      > they have are in a little different style than the
      > other ones on the
      > pages on my website (linked below, images of their
      > headrests are on
      > the bottom of the pages). This may just be due to
      > the fact that they
      > collected objects for their ethnographic value
      > instead of their
      > artistic/aesthetic value that we commonly see in
      > other types of
      > museums. (in my opinion)
      > I always say that I do not think you can
      > definitively determine the
      > authenticity of an object from a photograph. From a
      > photograph you
      > can look at the style and other factors about an
      > object that will
      > come into play in the determination of authenticity
      > and these factors
      > will allow someone to make a judgment based on these
      > things. To get a
      > definitive answer on authenticity you would need to
      > have someone who
      > has had a lot of experience with these types of
      > objects look at it in
      > person and evaluate it.
      > As for age, that is also something that is almost
      > impossible to tell
      > from a photograph in my opinion. There are older and
      > traditional
      > styles of objects, but these styles may have changed
      > over the years
      > due to different influences. Pre-colonial objects
      > compared to post-
      > colonial objects of the same type are one example of
      > this. Someone
      > with enough experience may know by looking at
      > examples of 2 similar
      > objects that one is carved in a style of a certain
      > period while the
      > other may be carved in a style from another period.
      > Without
      > documentation of field collection date, or dates of
      > acquisition by an
      > object's previous owner(s), age can only be guessed
      > in my opinion.
      > You also have to know the history of the particular
      > objects in
      > question. Based on field research, it may be able to
      > be determined
      > that specific objects may not have been made before
      > a particular
      > date.
      > It's almost like, for purpose of making my point,
      > looking at an
      > American quarter. Over the years the styles on an
      > American quarter
      > have changed during different periods. If quarters
      > didn't have dates
      > on them, someone would be able to look at a group of
      > quarters in
      > different styles and say that each particular
      > quarter
      === message truncated ===

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