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Re: can you help identify this piece ?

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  • jivarobe
    Dear Lee, thank you for your answer and detailed explanation on the maternity. I hope you didn t take my second message as a sign of impatience. It was rather
    Message 1 of 7 , Sep 15, 2006
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      Dear Lee,

      thank you for your answer and detailed explanation on the maternity. I
      hope you didn't take my second message as a sign of impatience. It was
      rather the thought that the first having posted during the summer, it
      wasn't perhaps the best timing to bother the group.

      For the mortar as I said I haven't yet found even a vaguely related
      picture. Of course I am pursuing my research and will you keep updated.
      Inputs from the group, if any would be highly appreciated.

      For the maternity, I did have some info, provided in my first message,
      and not repeated in the second which I only posted on the "unknown"
      mortar. The info I have is that was acquired in the mid 50's in Congo,
      and was then described as coming from the Kwango region, Bapende people,
      early 20th century.
      I did get recently some interesting ideas from a person who saw the
      actual piece. She said it shows influence of Christian sculptures (do
      you call them "Virgin with child" ? They are typical in Catholic
      churches, as early as from the XI century or so unwards). This is not
      unheard of as I am sure you have seen a number of pieces e.g. from the
      Kongos where they had reinterpretated Christian symbols into their own.
      The same also happened with e.g. the Holo people (1). It could indeed
      coincide with the estimated period I gave earlier of early XX century,
      and the region.
      The picture you supplied are very relevant, and I will further my study
      with them. Thanks again !

      (1) see for reference e.g. J. Cornet, l'Art de l'Afrique
      noire,Brussels, Arcade, 1972, 369 pp, lots of pictures. An exemple for
      such a Holo work can be seen on plate 49 (Jesus on the Cross
      reinterpretated as a Nzambi).


      Michael

      --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, LRubinstein@... wrote:
      >
      >
      > Dear Michael:
      >
      > Thanks for your patience and for taking the time to re-post your
      inquiry as
      > well as links to the images of the objects you queried nearly a month
      ago. I
      > have neither over-looked nor forgotten your inquiry but have yet to
      uncover
      > any conclusive information or even comparative examples to help
      ascertain the
      > origins of the mortar which you have illustrated. I have, however,
      printed
      > out a copy of the primary image (_Image_
      >
      (http://ph.groups.yahoo.com/group/African_Arts/photos/view/2fbf?b=1&m=s&\
      o=0) ) and will continue to keep my eyes
      > open for related examples that might help to determine its
      attribution. The
      > surfaces -- exterior, interior and underneath -- all look
      sumptuous...so I
      > hope we can eventually generate some ideas about its origins and
      usage.
      >
      > I have also been limited in my time and ability to locate examples
      with
      > which to compare your double figure (_Image_
      >
      (http://ph.groups.yahoo.com/group/African_Arts/photos/view/2fbf?b=4&m=s&\
      o=0) ) which your caption suggested you
      > were inclined to attribute to the (Ba)Pende. I have in this case,
      though, been
      > able to follow up some of my hunches to uncover examples that I think
      might
      > move you in a productive direction in identifying that particular
      figure.
      > Both the coloration of the wood and the general stylistics lead me to
      believe
      > that the double figure originates somewhere between the Kwilu and
      Kwango
      > Rivers either in the DRC or in Angola (the coloration of the wood
      makes me think
      > particularly of Angola), presumably from among Chokwe-related groups
      such as
      > the Lwena, Lunda and/or Songo or even the Chokwe themselves. Lunda
      and Pende
      > groups are interspersed in the area between the Kwilu and the Kwango,
      while
      > Pende and Chokwe groups also live contiguously in the are between the
      Kwango
      > and the Kasai region further to the East, so the inter-relationships
      among the
      > Pende and these other groups are highly plausible throughout the
      broader
      > region.
      >
      > I have included below some images of works attributed to the Lwena and
      Lunda
      > below as well as some bibliographical sources that might be helpful in
      > searching further. Images of Songo works are far less plentiful and
      accessible
      > but I will try to gather some of these as well...in time.
      >
      > Before, however, I move onto the images and bibliographical
      details... Among
      > the images I came across when searching for related examples is this
      > satellite image of the northern Lunda region, which seemed apropos:
      > _Northern_Lunda_
      >
      (http://www.geog.ucsb.edu/~jeff/landsatwallpaper2/angolanortheasternlund\
      anorteregion8o95slat20o40elongdec161990.jpg) . Fortuitously enough,
      among the
      > images there I also found a satellite image of the Niger River Delta
      region
      > around Warri, which seemed similarly applicable to our discussion of
      the
      > Ijaw/Ijo: _Niger_Delta_Warri_
      >
      (http://www.geog.ucsb.edu/~jeff/landsatwallpaper2/nigerriverdeltanearwar\
      ri5o85nlat5o43elongdec241991.jpg) .
      >
      > Now, here are the images...First, a pair of Lwena figures in the first
      > image. Then, two separate images of Lunda-attributed figures with
      links to their
      > sources.
      >
      >
      >
      _http://www.bada.org/provenart/dealer_stock_details.cgi?d_id=109&a_id=21\
      530_
      >
      (http://www.bada.org/provenart/dealer_stock_details.cgi?d_id=109&a_id=21\
      530)
      >
      > (http://artafricain.ifrance.com/Lwena-congo.jpg)
      > _http://artafricain.ifrance.com/statues.htm_
      (http://artafricain.ifrance.com/statues.htm) (Right
      > column, fourth image down to click for enlargement.)
      >
      >
      >
      > _http://www.buyafricanantiques.com/lunda-maternity.htm_
      > (http://www.buyafricanantiques.com/lunda-maternity.htm) (Click link
      for related text on the
      > Lunda and related peole's from David Norden's web-site whence cometh
      this image.)
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > Books that will provide some additional insights and examples
      include:
      >
      > Marie-Louise Bastin, transl. by J.B. Donne, La Sculpture Tshokwe
      (Meudon:
      > Alain and Fran�oise Chaffin, 1982).
      >
      >
      > Jord�n, M, Bastin M. L., et al. (1998). Chokwe!: art and
      initiation among
      > the Chokwe and related peoples. Munich ; New York, Prestel.
      >
      > Also see _http://www.chokwe.net/_ (http://www.chokwe.net/) for
      information
      > on Chokwe and their Bantu Neighbors exhibition catalogue.
      >
      > A bibliography on Chokwe resources in various languages on a
      Portuguese
      > web-site:
      >
      _http://www.tucokwe.org/cultura/recursos/referencias/bibliografia.html_
      >
      (http://www.tucokwe.org/cultura/recursos/referencias/bibliografia.html)
      >
      > As mentioned, I will continue to search for related examples to help
      > identify this figure as well as the mortar. Others who have objects
      queried and
      > topics pending, be patient and assured that you are not over-looked.
      Lee
      >
    • jivarobe
      Dear Paul, thank you for your answer. About the mortar I got some elements yesterday. It was reported as being a mortar used to prepare medicinal herbs as
      Message 2 of 7 , Sep 21, 2006
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        Dear Paul,

        thank you for your answer.

        About the mortar I got some elements yesterday. It was reported as being
        a mortar used to prepare medicinal herbs as well as being a container
        to keep them. The precise origin couldn't be traced either, but
        located in the Mayama region. Which for me means the Pool region in
        Brazaville, where the Teke and others live.
        I was a bit surprized as I thought it would originate from a more
        Eastern one, but then who knows ?

        Best regards
        Michael

        --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "Paul De Lucco" <pauldelucco@...>
        wrote:
        >
        > Dear Michael,
        >
        > I have collected in the Congo and thought I would contribute a
        response to your request for infomraiton. I have looked carefully at
        your photos and agree with Lee that they probably come from the area of
        Kwilu/Kwango.
        >
        > The mortar is obviously old but possibly older than the sculpture
        itself. The sculpture has stylistic elements, notably the "coffee bean
        eyes," common to the different cultures of the Kwilu/Kwango region but
        none of the elements is really strong enough to point strongly to one
        culture or another, to Pende as opposed to Tshokwe or Nkanu, say. I
        think it is unlikely that you will be able to narrow the source down any
        more than this.
        >
        > The double figure could be Pende but I like Lee's suggestion that the
        reddish color of the wood seems to indicate a more southern origin,
        perhaps northern Angola. The style of the sculpture is more pronounced
        than that of the faces on the mortar and I wouldn't be surprised if a
        search of photo archives didn't produce a few convincing matches.
        >
        > Regards,
        >
        > Paul
        >
        >
        > ----- Original Message -----
        > From: jivarobe
        > To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
        > Sent: Thursday, September 14, 2006 9:19 PM
        > Subject: [African_Arts] can you help identify this piece ?
        >
        >
        > Hi there,
        >
        > I have recently acquired a wooden mortar which looks and "feels"
        quite nice, but haven't yet been able to properly identify it. The dark
        and heavy wood is carved with four heads shaping the mortar. It is
        almost square in size.
        >
        > See
        http://ph.groups.yahoo.com/group/African_Arts/photos/view/2fbf?b=1
        >
        > Other views are given under the photos folder "Jivarobe".
        >
        > I would think it is a piece from Congo, but haven't traced it back
        more precisely.
        >
        > Thanks !
        >
        > Michael Grisay
        >
      • jivarobe
        Dear Paul, further to my previous message, I would like to correct the information I gave. There was an error in the information as transmitted to me, and I
        Message 3 of 7 , Sep 23, 2006
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          Dear Paul,

          further to my previous message, I would like to correct the information
          I gave. There was an error in the information as transmitted to me, and
          I had now the opportunity to ask for clarification. The region is not
          Mayama but well Maniema / North Kasaï. This is indeed much further
          Eastwards. It includes the Lega among many others.
          The fact that is shows four faces could be linked to the cosmogony and
          the female dimension. Which for a medecines container could indeed make
          sense.

          Best regards
          Michael


          --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "jivarobe" <jivarosprl@...> wrote:
          >
          > Dear Paul,
          >
          > thank you for your answer.
          >
          > About the mortar I got some elements yesterday. It was reported as
          being
          > a mortar used to prepare medicinal herbs as well as being a container
          > to keep them. The precise origin couldn't be traced either, but
          > located in the Mayama region. Which for me means the Pool region in
          > Brazaville, where the Teke and others live.
          > I was a bit surprized as I thought it would originate from a more
          > Eastern one, but then who knows ?
          >
          > Best regards
          > Michael
          >
          > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "Paul De Lucco" pauldelucco@
          > wrote:
          > >
          > > Dear Michael,
          > >
          > > I have collected in the Congo and thought I would contribute a
          > response to your request for infomraiton. I have looked carefully at
          > your photos and agree with Lee that they probably come from the area
          of
          > Kwilu/Kwango.
          > >
          > > The mortar is obviously old but possibly older than the sculpture
          > itself. The sculpture has stylistic elements, notably the "coffee
          bean
          > eyes," common to the different cultures of the Kwilu/Kwango region but
          > none of the elements is really strong enough to point strongly to one
          > culture or another, to Pende as opposed to Tshokwe or Nkanu, say. I
          > think it is unlikely that you will be able to narrow the source down
          any
          > more than this.
          > >
          > > The double figure could be Pende but I like Lee's suggestion that
          the
          > reddish color of the wood seems to indicate a more southern origin,
          > perhaps northern Angola. The style of the sculpture is more
          pronounced
          > than that of the faces on the mortar and I wouldn't be surprised if a
          > search of photo archives didn't produce a few convincing matches.
          > >
          > > Regards,
          > >
          > > Paul
          > >
          > >
          > > ----- Original Message -----
          > > From: jivarobe
          > > To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
          > > Sent: Thursday, September 14, 2006 9:19 PM
          > > Subject: [African_Arts] can you help identify this piece ?
          > >
          > >
          > > Hi there,
          > >
          > > I have recently acquired a wooden mortar which looks and "feels"
          > quite nice, but haven't yet been able to properly identify it. The
          dark
          > and heavy wood is carved with four heads shaping the mortar. It is
          > almost square in size.
          > >
          > > See
          > http://ph.groups.yahoo.com/group/African_Arts/photos/view/2fbf?b=1
          > >
          > > Other views are given under the photos folder "Jivarobe".
          > >
          > > I would think it is a piece from Congo, but haven't traced it
          back
          > more precisely.
          > >
          > > Thanks !
          > >
          > > Michael Grisay
          > >
          >
        • Paul De Lucco
          Michael, The cultural context of Maniema Province makes the Bandundu Province look well-organized; it has been little studied except by the great Belgian art
          Message 4 of 7 , Sep 26, 2006
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            Michael,
             
            The cultural context of Maniema Province makes the Bandundu Province look well-organized;  it has been little studied except by the great Belgian art historian Biebuyck.   I recommend you look for any of his publications as part of your research.  
             
            A number of the many cultures in the Maniema incorporate the stylistic elements of your mortar, such as coffee bean eyes and triangular nose, in their sculpture.  Since the sculpture is very simplified, it will be difficult to narrow down the attribution.  The styles of the Kusu, Lega, Bangu-Bangu, Bembe, Hoyo, Songye and others all borrow from one another.  The Songye, very respected for their sculpture by other groups, even fabricate power objects on command for groups such as the Kusu.  In such an environment, even strongly-styled pieces can be difficult to attribute to one group or another.          
             
            The mortar's shape is unusual.  Most Congolese mortars tend to be taller than the 12cm or so indicated.  They also usually taper into a base like a beer glass.  The faces do not seem angular enough to be in the eastern areas of the province inhabited by the Bembe or Hoyo.  The black color is not common in Lega or Bangu-Bangu work but seems more common in the northern Maniema in objects made by the Zimba or Kusu.  You might look for photos of these groups.
             
            Hope this is of some help.
             
            Regards,
             
            Paul
             
             
             
             
             
            ----- Original Message -----
            From: jivarobe
            Sent: Saturday, September 23, 2006 6:26 PM
            Subject: [African_Arts] Re: can you help identify this piece ?

            Dear Paul,

            further to my previous message, I would like to correct the information
            I gave. There was an error in the information as transmitted to me, and
            I had now the opportunity to ask for clarification. The region is not
            Mayama but well Maniema / North Kasaï. This is indeed much further
            Eastwards. It includes the Lega among many others.
            The fact that is shows four faces could be linked to the cosmogony and
            the female dimension. Which for a medecines container could indeed make
            sense.

            Best regards
            Michael

            --- In African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com, "jivarobe" <jivarosprl@ ...> wrote:
            >
            > Dear Paul,
            >
            > thank you for your answer.
            >
            > About the mortar I got some elements yesterday. It was reported as
            being
            > a mortar used to prepare medicinal herbs as well as being a container
            > to keep them. The precise origin couldn't be traced either, but
            > located in the Mayama region. Which for me means the Pool region in
            > Brazaville, where the Teke and others live.
            > I was a bit surprized as I thought it would originate from a more
            > Eastern one, but then who knows ?
            >
            > Best regards
            > Michael
            >
            > --- In African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com, "Paul De Lucco" pauldelucco@
            > wrote:
            > >
            > > Dear Michael,
            > >
            > > I have collected in the Congo and thought I would contribute a
            > response to your request for infomraiton. I have looked carefully at
            > your photos and agree with Lee that they probably come from the area
            of
            > Kwilu/Kwango.
            > >
            > > The mortar is obviously old but possibly older than the sculpture
            > itself. The sculpture has stylistic elements, notably the "coffee
            bean
            > eyes," common to the different cultures of the Kwilu/Kwango region but
            > none of the elements is really strong enough to point strongly to one
            > culture or another, to Pende as opposed to Tshokwe or Nkanu, say. I
            > think it is unlikely that you will be able to narrow the source down
            any
            > more than this.
            > >
            > > The double figure could be Pende but I like Lee's suggestion that
            the
            > reddish color of the wood seems to indicate a more southern origin,
            > perhaps northern Angola. The style of the sculpture is more
            pronounced
            > than that of the faces on the mortar and I wouldn't be surprised if a
            > search of photo archives didn't produce a few convincing matches.
            > >
            > > Regards,
            > >
            > > Paul
            > >
            > >
            > > ----- Original Message -----
            > > From: jivarobe
            > > To: African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com
            > > Sent: Thursday, September 14, 2006 9:19 PM
            > > Subject: [African_Arts] can you help identify this piece ?
            > >
            > >
            > > Hi there,
            > >
            > > I have recently acquired a wooden mortar which looks and "feels"
            > quite nice, but haven't yet been able to properly identify it. The
            dark
            > and heavy wood is carved with four heads shaping the mortar. It is
            > almost square in size.
            > >
            > > See
            > http://ph.groups. yahoo.com/ group/African_ Arts/photos/ view/2fbf? b=1
            > >
            > > Other views are given under the photos folder "Jivarobe".
            > >
            > > I would think it is a piece from Congo, but haven't traced it
            back
            > more precisely.
            > >
            > > Thanks !
            > >
            > > Michael Grisay
            > >
            >

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