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Re: [African_Arts] Re: A Yaka Chief's Scepter/ LITERATURE

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  • Lee Rubinstein
    Chris: Thanks for your kind words. Because I believe that the transit of objects and their thoughtful consideration offer a rich opportunity for
    Message 1 of 12 , Jul 20, 2009
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      Chris:

      Thanks for your kind words.  Because I believe that the transit of objects and their thoughtful consideration offer a rich opportunity for trans-cultural communication and understanding, any effort to identify and make known relevant resources is always worthwhile... although I wish it were possible to access more sources -- especially indigenous ones! -- for corroboration and critical analysis of the objects upon which we touch.  In lieu of answers (which are rare) I try to offer directions and resources that I believe will encourage and empower each interested individual to immerse him/herself more fully in available data and analyses of which the thoughtful reading can yield a holistic appreciation of objects and their cultural settings.  So doing, one can perceive (passive) and imbue (active) objects with rich cultural, historical, symbolic and spiritual value. 

      One advantage I have afforded myself in recent years is the creation of a good library although the range of topics and examples is so vast that there are always deficiencies lest one should have access to the most comprehensive and specialized libraries or unlimited funds.  In addition to reading publications that focus on material culture (collections, specific regional art traditions, etc.) as well as monographs and comparative ethnographic studies, one source that I have found to be especially illuminating is the body of African literature, including novels, short stories, plays, essays and poetry.  African literature -- as African ritual and visual arts -- provides important insights into African traditional and contemporary life(lives) and offers meaningful perspectives/insight into the African realities in which people exist and, thus, from which objects emerge.  As such, the unique perspectives encountered through this body of literature provide counterpoint and balance to the external views offered frequently through academic literature.    

      Among recent titles that I have read -- all recommended! -- are Ken Saro-Wiwa's Sozaboy and A Forest of Flowers, Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sun, Ayi Kwei Armah's The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born, Grace Ogot's Land Without Thunder, Stanlake Samkange's On Trial for My Country, Dambudzo Marechera's House of Hunger, Es'kia [Ezekiel] Mphahlele's Renewal Time, Birago Diop's Tales of Amadou Koumba, Abdulrazak Gurnah's Memory of Departure... as well as novels and other fiction by Chinua Achebe, Sembene Ousmane, Ngugi Wa Thiong'o, Buchi Emecheta, Ama Ata Aidoo, Cyprian Ekwensi, Mongo Beti, Camara Laye, T.M. Aluko, Chris Abani...

      The pleasure and insight yielded by such reading has moved me to focus my efforts less on gathering objects and more upon seeking out literature through which to gain a more rounded perception of African social realities and contexts of artistic production as viewed and presented through African authors.  In fact, I am currently embarking upon the liquidation of my collection (selections) to facilitate this literary journey which will become a precursor to more frequent and extended (permanent?) African sojourns in both mind and body.


      On Jul 20, 2009, at 9:11 AM, congabongoman wrote:

      Lee:

      The depth of your scholarly research and analysis is matched only by your graciousness in devoting the time and research that you do to respond so thoughtfully to the posts on this group. You are truly an amazing asset for those of us who are hungry to learn more about particular pieces and their possible use. My thanks.

      Your suggestions about other possible uses of the object I posted are well taken--the seller had closely examined the piece and concluded that it had been shortened in the past due to damage; as such, my description of the piece as a scepter was intended only to reference its current form (the leather handle we probably added after it was shortened and the wooden "handle" area now in the center of the piece was likely the place where it was originally intended to be grasped.

      I found your explanation of the Yaka's emphasis on the connection between the olfactory system and fertility/sexuality to be most interesting, particularly because this connection has been thoroughly established by modern science (e.g., the olfactory system and the reception of hormone signals through it is the means through which, for example, women living in close proximity for a period of time may find that their monthly cycles align themselves-- also, through hormones absorbed throught the nose, men that are exposed to female sexual hormones exhibit increased sexual maturation (e.g., chest hair)). I think the nose's form and function as both a "protruberance" (as embodied in the clearly sexual symbolism given it by the Yaka who were well ahead of the author of Cyrano De Burgerac--excuse my spelling) and a "receptor", giving it elements of both male and female sexual symbolism is particularly interesting from a surrealist/freudian perspective.

      I'll have to see if I can dig up the articles you cite for further inquiry. Thanks again for your amazingly detailed response.

      Chris 

      --- In African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com, Lee Rubinstein <LeeRubinstein@ ...> wrote:
      >
      > Chris:
      > 
      > Although the designation of your object as a scepter is plausible, I 
      > don't know whether the object's basic form is necessarily sufficient 
      > to apply such a classification. In addition to the possibility of 
      > your object being a scepter, it is worth exploring whether the form 
      > you've presented might be of or related to the class of objects to 
      > which Bourgeois refers as Yaka "charm post," or nsinda -- briefly 
      > discussed on page 46 of "Kakungu among the Yaka and Suku" [African 
      > Arts Vol. XV, No. 1, November 1980, pp. 42-46, p. 88] and illustrated 
      > on pages 43 and 46 [Figs. 5 and 9. respectively] . He writes:
      > 
      > "The general use of charm posts to protect a village is is common 
      > among the Yaka, but according to informants, charm posts, including 
      > the kakungu variety, were not used by the Suku. The origin of kakungu 
      > charms has been attributed by Himmelheber to the Nkanu, while Devisch 
      > mentions Suku origins. My own informants among the Suku and Yaka 
      > hesitated to ascribe any origin other than the elders-ancestors. .. 
      > Although I found concerning the use and preparation of kakungu charms 
      > conflicting, a general pattern becomes clear. Kakungu masks and charm 
      > posts, whether used within or outside initiation contexts, principally 
      > protected and effected fertility... As embodied in a wooden object, 
      > kakungu could act as either a mobile instrument that dramatically 
      > demonstrated its powers or as a stationary charm that guaranteed 
      > protection."
      > 
      > An additional object which has been documented among the paraphernalia 
      > of Yaka ritual practice -- specifically used in mbwoolu healing -- is 
      > a ritual cane. Although no illustration is contained in the on-line 
      > version of the article, the cane's use is described in some detail in 
      > René Devisch's article, "Cultural Modes of Comprehending and Healing 
      > Insanity: The Yaka of DR Congo" (Africa Development, Vol. XXX, No.3, 
      > 2005, pp. 93–111). The article also contains descriptions of the use 
      > of selected statuettes in this particular healing rite of the Yaka. 
      > Another article containing descriptions and illustrations that may be 
      > instructive regarding objects used in Yaka divinatory practices is 
      > Devisch's "The Slit Drum and Body Imagery in Mediumistic Divination 
      > among the Yaka" in John Pemberton III, ed., Insight and Artistry in 
      > African Divination ( London and Washington, DC: Smithsonian 
      > Institution Press, 2000).
      > 
      > With specific regard to your question about the markings suggestive of 
      > "a hut" which you observe, I find this interpretation of lines 
      > plausible and possibly a reference to the house of seclusion in which 
      > initiates are sequestered in the course of nkanda ritual and which is 
      > also the locale prescribed for healing interventions, as that 
      > described by Devisch in the article linked above. For a related 
      > object, see, for instance, this Yaka mask in which a house is 
      > portrayed. Unfortunately, I do not come across much material 
      > specifically explicating this particular symbol or the use of symbols 
      > in Yaka art, generally.
      > 
      > The most salient aspect of Yaka "portraiture" as well as that which 
      > appears frequently in related and/or formally resonant Suku and Nkanu 
      > masks and figures is the accentuated up-turned nose. A potentially 
      > relevant reference which gives possible insight into the prevalence of 
      > this distinctive imagery is René Devisch's description of the Yaka 
      > conception of olfactory experience. He writes:
      > 
      > "When referring to the nose, the Yaka are aware of more than the 
      > simple sense of smell, for to them smell represents something 
      > unconfined that easily crosses corporal barriers and spatial limits. 
      > Olfaction and sexual appetite, which is compared to hunger, are 
      > considered to be manifestations of the vital flow (mooyi)... Scent, 
      > breathing in and out, and sensation -- in other words, bodily odor, 
      > heat, rhythm and energy -- are all intimately related in Yaka 
      > thought... The olfactory domain is, according to the Yaka, a 
      > generator of vital flow, vital impulse and regeneration. .. The sexual 
      > connotations of the sense of smell are also symbolically expressed in 
      > the phallic nose adorning the kholuka mask used in the circumcision 
      > rites." [p. 135 in René Devisch, Weaving the Threads of Life: The 
      > Khita Gyn-Eco-Logical Healing Cult Among the Yaka (Chicago: 
      > University of Chicago Press. 1993)].
      > 
      > This work may be of particular interest -- as may be the other Devisch 
      > articles cited and linked above -- to those of you whose collecting 
      > (and other) interests include special focus on medical practice, 
      > health, healing and concepts of the individual. For further study, 
      > also see Devisch and Claude Brodeur's The Law of the Lifegivers: The 
      > Domestication of Desire (Harwood Academic Publishers, 1999).
      > 
      > Lee
      > 
      > On Jul 16, 2009, at 10:12 AM, congabongoman wrote:
      > 
      > > Hi Margalit--
      > >
      > > Thanks for your post. In addition to the upturned nose, the faces 
      > > also have traces of white and blue pigment, and the male face has 
      > > the raised, swooping, almost "five o'clock shadow" area hilighting 
      > > the lower face and cheeks, all of which is also consistent with Yaka/ 
      > > Suku artistic styles in my experience.
      > >
      > > Regarding your comparison with modern sculpture/art, one of the 
      > > things I enjoy most about the faces is the subtlety of expression 
      > > achieved and the contrast between the "maleness" and "femaleness" (I 
      > > guess femininity is the better word) that the artist achieved. 
      > > Depending on the angle of light, the smile on the female face 
      > > reminds me a bit of the Mona Lisa in its subtle emotiveness.
      > >
      > > Is anyone familiar with the markings below the faces, which appear 
      > > to be three vertical lines with an "arrowhead" or "roof" above them 
      > > and three "dots" or a connecting "m" below? To me, it appears to be 
      > > almost a pictograph of a hut or lodge building. I'm curious if 
      > > anyone has seen similar markings on Yaka or Congolese pieces.
      > >
      > > Thanks again,
      > >
      > > Chris
      > >
      > > --- In African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com, "M.E.F." <mfliegelmann@ > 
      > > wrote:
      > > >
      > > > Hi Chris,
      > > >
      > > > I am replying off the cuff as I have no expert opinion to give, 
      > > having looked carefully at your "find".
      > > >
      > > > I am used to less realistic carvings when it comes to Yaka culture 
      > > but there is the turned up nose so.. ?
      > > >
      > > > More importantly, if you really have not invested much and like 
      > > the staff, what can go wrong? I agree with you that it is careful 
      > > work and that it is attractive. It is as good as any "modern" 
      > > sculpture and I am sure it will give you many moments of joyful 
      > > contemplation.
      > > >
      > > > Regards, Margalit
      > > >
      > > > --- On Wed, 7/15/09, congabongoman <congabongoman@ > wrote:
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > From: congabongoman <congabongoman@ >
      > > > Subject: [African_Arts] A Yaka Chief's Scepter --on Ebay?!
      > > > To: African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com
      > > > Date: Wednesday, July 15, 2009, 9:27 PM
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > Hi All--
      > > >
      > > > I greatly enjoyed the recent discussions on authenticity but chose 
      > > not to weigh in as I'd already shared my views in posts on prior 
      > > topics. I've posted photos of an old and beautiful chief's scepter 
      > > that I just acquired in an album appropriately entitled "Yaka 
      > > scepter": http://groups. yahoo.com/ group/African_ Arts/photos/ 
      > > album/1442146928 /pic/list
      > > > and thought I would share it with the group for two reasons. The 
      > > first is that it's a remarkably well-carved piece with male and 
      > > female janus (and Janet?) faces that are stikingly realistic but, at 
      > > the same time, elongated in an expressionistic vein. Does anyone 
      > > know of any similar examples from the Yaka or other DRC peoples for 
      > > reference? Note, there is some some old repair (or embellishment) 
      > > work in bitumen on the faces and a small piece missing.
      > > >
      > > > The second reason is that I acquired it from, gulp, Ebay. It's 
      > > from a reputable Belgium seller that provided a written provenence 
      > > indicating the staff was from the collection of Paul and Diane 
      > > Sergeant, was collected by them in the 1960s and is early 20th C. 
      > > Even better, I got it at an extremely good price for a piece of this 
      > > quality (with free shipping). Anyway, while Ebay's reputation for 
      > > selling fake african art pieces (most of which are poorly carved, at 
      > > that) is well-deserved, I think there are exceptions to every rule 
      > > as I've noticed a very, very small percentage of high-quality pieces 
      > > that are occasionally posted and, of those, an even smaller 
      > > percentage that occasionally sell for a reasonable price. I've also 
      > > noticed that this very, very small percentage appears to be 
      > > increasing as many European dealers have begun to tap into the 
      > > American tribal art market (the value of the dollar notwithstanding) 
      > > due no doubt to the downturn in the market.
      > > >
      > > > I'd welcome any thoughts folks may have on the piece or my 
      > > observation.
      > > >
      > > > Best Regards,
      > > >
      > > > Chris
      > > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      >


    • Steve Price
      Just as a point in passing: one of the peculiarities of humans is that we live in a visual world. Nearly all other animals live in an olfactory world (that s
      Message 2 of 12 , Jul 20, 2009
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        Just as a point in passing: one of the peculiarities of humans is that we live in a visual world. Nearly all other animals live in an olfactory world (that's why a dog smells you, rather than looks you in the eye, when you meet). People actually have pretty acute senses of smell, we just don't pay much attention to it.

        One important evolutionary advantage of the erect posture is the ability to see over the top of the underbrush, and to see stereoscopically by having both eyes face front. This allowed us to compensate for having our noses so far from the ground. We also lost lower back stability.

        Steve Price


        --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "congabongoman" <congabongoman@...> wrote:
        >
        > Lee:
        >
        > The depth of your scholarly research and analysis is matched only by your graciousness in devoting the time and research that you do to respond so thoughtfully to the posts on this group. You are truly an amazing asset for those of us who are hungry to learn more about particular pieces and their possible use. My thanks.
        >
        > Your suggestions about other possible uses of the object I posted are well taken--the seller had closely examined the piece and concluded that it had been shortened in the past due to damage; as such, my description of the piece as a scepter was intended only to reference its current form (the leather handle we probably added after it was shortened and the wooden "handle" area now in the center of the piece was likely the place where it was originally intended to be grasped.
        >
        > I found your explanation of the Yaka's emphasis on the connection between the olfactory system and fertility/sexuality to be most interesting, particularly because this connection has been thoroughly established by modern science (e.g., the olfactory system and the reception of hormone signals through it is the means through which, for example, women living in close proximity for a period of time may find that their monthly cycles align themselves--also, through hormones absorbed throught the nose, men that are exposed to female sexual hormones exhibit increased sexual maturation (e.g., chest hair)). I think the nose's form and function as both a "protruberance" (as embodied in the clearly sexual symbolism given it by the Yaka who were well ahead of the author of Cyrano De Burgerac--excuse my spelling) and a "receptor", giving it elements of both male and female sexual symbolism is particularly interesting from a surrealist/freudian perspective.
        >
        > I'll have to see if I can dig up the articles you cite for further inquiry. Thanks again for your amazingly detailed response.
        >
        > Chris
        >
        > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Lee Rubinstein <LeeRubinstein@> wrote:
        > >
        > > Chris:
        > >
        > > Although the designation of your object as a scepter is plausible, I
        > > don't know whether the object's basic form is necessarily sufficient
        > > to apply such a classification. In addition to the possibility of
        > > your object being a scepter, it is worth exploring whether the form
        > > you've presented might be of or related to the class of objects to
        > > which Bourgeois refers as Yaka "charm post," or nsinda -- briefly
        > > discussed on page 46 of "Kakungu among the Yaka and Suku" [African
        > > Arts Vol. XV, No. 1, November 1980, pp. 42-46, p. 88] and illustrated
        > > on pages 43 and 46 [Figs. 5 and 9. respectively]. He writes:
        > >
        > > "The general use of charm posts to protect a village is is common
        > > among the Yaka, but according to informants, charm posts, including
        > > the kakungu variety, were not used by the Suku. The origin of kakungu
        > > charms has been attributed by Himmelheber to the Nkanu, while Devisch
        > > mentions Suku origins. My own informants among the Suku and Yaka
        > > hesitated to ascribe any origin other than the elders-ancestors...
        > > Although I found concerning the use and preparation of kakungu charms
        > > conflicting, a general pattern becomes clear. Kakungu masks and charm
        > > posts, whether used within or outside initiation contexts, principally
        > > protected and effected fertility... As embodied in a wooden object,
        > > kakungu could act as either a mobile instrument that dramatically
        > > demonstrated its powers or as a stationary charm that guaranteed
        > > protection."
        > >
        > > An additional object which has been documented among the paraphernalia
        > > of Yaka ritual practice -- specifically used in mbwoolu healing -- is
        > > a ritual cane. Although no illustration is contained in the on-line
        > > version of the article, the cane's use is described in some detail in
        > > René Devisch's article, "Cultural Modes of Comprehending and Healing
        > > Insanity: The Yaka of DR Congo" (Africa Development, Vol. XXX, No.3,
        > > 2005, pp. 93–111). The article also contains descriptions of the use
        > > of selected statuettes in this particular healing rite of the Yaka.
        > > Another article containing descriptions and illustrations that may be
        > > instructive regarding objects used in Yaka divinatory practices is
        > > Devisch's "The Slit Drum and Body Imagery in Mediumistic Divination
        > > among the Yaka" in John Pemberton III, ed., Insight and Artistry in
        > > African Divination ( London and Washington, DC: Smithsonian
        > > Institution Press, 2000).
        > >
        > > With specific regard to your question about the markings suggestive of
        > > "a hut" which you observe, I find this interpretation of lines
        > > plausible and possibly a reference to the house of seclusion in which
        > > initiates are sequestered in the course of nkanda ritual and which is
        > > also the locale prescribed for healing interventions, as that
        > > described by Devisch in the article linked above. For a related
        > > object, see, for instance, this Yaka mask in which a house is
        > > portrayed. Unfortunately, I do not come across much material
        > > specifically explicating this particular symbol or the use of symbols
        > > in Yaka art, generally.
        > >
        > > The most salient aspect of Yaka "portraiture" as well as that which
        > > appears frequently in related and/or formally resonant Suku and Nkanu
        > > masks and figures is the accentuated up-turned nose. A potentially
        > > relevant reference which gives possible insight into the prevalence of
        > > this distinctive imagery is René Devisch's description of the Yaka
        > > conception of olfactory experience. He writes:
        > >
        > > "When referring to the nose, the Yaka are aware of more than the
        > > simple sense of smell, for to them smell represents something
        > > unconfined that easily crosses corporal barriers and spatial limits.
        > > Olfaction and sexual appetite, which is compared to hunger, are
        > > considered to be manifestations of the vital flow (mooyi)... Scent,
        > > breathing in and out, and sensation -- in other words, bodily odor,
        > > heat, rhythm and energy -- are all intimately related in Yaka
        > > thought... The olfactory domain is, according to the Yaka, a
        > > generator of vital flow, vital impulse and regeneration... The sexual
        > > connotations of the sense of smell are also symbolically expressed in
        > > the phallic nose adorning the kholuka mask used in the circumcision
        > > rites." [p. 135 in René Devisch, Weaving the Threads of Life: The
        > > Khita Gyn-Eco-Logical Healing Cult Among the Yaka (Chicago:
        > > University of Chicago Press. 1993)].
        > >
        > > This work may be of particular interest -- as may be the other Devisch
        > > articles cited and linked above -- to those of you whose collecting
        > > (and other) interests include special focus on medical practice,
        > > health, healing and concepts of the individual. For further study,
        > > also see Devisch and Claude Brodeur's The Law of the Lifegivers: The
        > > Domestication of Desire (Harwood Academic Publishers, 1999).
        > >
        > > Lee
        > >
        > > On Jul 16, 2009, at 10:12 AM, congabongoman wrote:
        > >
        > > > Hi Margalit--
        > > >
        > > > Thanks for your post. In addition to the upturned nose, the faces
        > > > also have traces of white and blue pigment, and the male face has
        > > > the raised, swooping, almost "five o'clock shadow" area hilighting
        > > > the lower face and cheeks, all of which is also consistent with Yaka/
        > > > Suku artistic styles in my experience.
        > > >
        > > > Regarding your comparison with modern sculpture/art, one of the
        > > > things I enjoy most about the faces is the subtlety of expression
        > > > achieved and the contrast between the "maleness" and "femaleness" (I
        > > > guess femininity is the better word) that the artist achieved.
        > > > Depending on the angle of light, the smile on the female face
        > > > reminds me a bit of the Mona Lisa in its subtle emotiveness.
        > > >
        > > > Is anyone familiar with the markings below the faces, which appear
        > > > to be three vertical lines with an "arrowhead" or "roof" above them
        > > > and three "dots" or a connecting "m" below? To me, it appears to be
        > > > almost a pictograph of a hut or lodge building. I'm curious if
        > > > anyone has seen similar markings on Yaka or Congolese pieces.
        > > >
        > > > Thanks again,
        > > >
        > > > Chris
        > > >
        > > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "M.E.F." <mfliegelmann@>
        > > > wrote:
        > > > >
        > > > > Hi Chris,
        > > > >
        > > > > I am replying off the cuff as I have no expert opinion to give,
        > > > having looked carefully at your "find".
        > > > >
        > > > > I am used to less realistic carvings when it comes to Yaka culture
        > > > but there is the turned up nose so.. ?
        > > > >
        > > > > More importantly, if you really have not invested much and like
        > > > the staff, what can go wrong? I agree with you that it is careful
        > > > work and that it is attractive. It is as good as any "modern"
        > > > sculpture and I am sure it will give you many moments of joyful
        > > > contemplation.
        > > > >
        > > > > Regards, Margalit
        > > > >
        > > > > --- On Wed, 7/15/09, congabongoman <congabongoman@> wrote:
        > > > >
        > > > >
        > > > > From: congabongoman <congabongoman@>
        > > > > Subject: [African_Arts] A Yaka Chief's Scepter --on Ebay?!
        > > > > To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
        > > > > Date: Wednesday, July 15, 2009, 9:27 PM
        > > > >
        > > > >
        > > > >
        > > > >
        > > > >
        > > > >
        > > > >
        > > > >
        > > > > Hi All--
        > > > >
        > > > > I greatly enjoyed the recent discussions on authenticity but chose
        > > > not to weigh in as I'd already shared my views in posts on prior
        > > > topics. I've posted photos of an old and beautiful chief's scepter
        > > > that I just acquired in an album appropriately entitled "Yaka
        > > > scepter": http://groups. yahoo.com/ group/African_ Arts/photos/
        > > > album/1442146928 /pic/list
        > > > > and thought I would share it with the group for two reasons. The
        > > > first is that it's a remarkably well-carved piece with male and
        > > > female janus (and Janet?) faces that are stikingly realistic but, at
        > > > the same time, elongated in an expressionistic vein. Does anyone
        > > > know of any similar examples from the Yaka or other DRC peoples for
        > > > reference? Note, there is some some old repair (or embellishment)
        > > > work in bitumen on the faces and a small piece missing.
        > > > >
        > > > > The second reason is that I acquired it from, gulp, Ebay. It's
        > > > from a reputable Belgium seller that provided a written provenence
        > > > indicating the staff was from the collection of Paul and Diane
        > > > Sergeant, was collected by them in the 1960s and is early 20th C.
        > > > Even better, I got it at an extremely good price for a piece of this
        > > > quality (with free shipping). Anyway, while Ebay's reputation for
        > > > selling fake african art pieces (most of which are poorly carved, at
        > > > that) is well-deserved, I think there are exceptions to every rule
        > > > as I've noticed a very, very small percentage of high-quality pieces
        > > > that are occasionally posted and, of those, an even smaller
        > > > percentage that occasionally sell for a reasonable price. I've also
        > > > noticed that this very, very small percentage appears to be
        > > > increasing as many European dealers have begun to tap into the
        > > > American tribal art market (the value of the dollar notwithstanding)
        > > > due no doubt to the downturn in the market.
        > > > >
        > > > > I'd welcome any thoughts folks may have on the piece or my
        > > > observation.
        > > > >
        > > > > Best Regards,
        > > > >
        > > > > Chris
        > > > >
        > > >
        > > >
        > > >
        > >
        >
      • oliviersalandini
        Hi Chris, If you believe that it s a remarkably well-carved piece no one can help you out. Best regards. Olivier
        Message 3 of 12 , Aug 5, 2009
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          Hi Chris,

          If you believe that it's a remarkably well-carved piece no one can help you out.
          Best regards.
          Olivier


          --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "congabongoman" <congabongoman@...> wrote:
          >
          > Hi All--
          >
          > I greatly enjoyed the recent discussions on authenticity but chose not to weigh in as I'd already shared my views in posts on prior topics. I've posted photos of an old and beautiful chief's scepter that I just acquired in an album appropriately entitled "Yaka scepter": http://groups.yahoo.com/group/African_Arts/photos/album/1442146928/pic/list
          > and thought I would share it with the group for two reasons. The first is that it's a remarkably well-carved piece with male and female janus (and Janet?) faces that are stikingly realistic but, at the same time, elongated in an expressionistic vein. Does anyone know of any similar examples from the Yaka or other DRC peoples for reference? Note, there is some some old repair (or embellishment) work in bitumen on the faces and a small piece missing.
          >
          > The second reason is that I acquired it from, gulp, Ebay. It's from a reputable Belgium seller that provided a written provenence indicating the staff was from the collection of Paul and Diane Sergeant, was collected by them in the 1960s and is early 20th C. Even better, I got it at an extremely good price for a piece of this quality (with free shipping). Anyway, while Ebay's reputation for selling fake african art pieces (most of which are poorly carved, at that) is well-deserved, I think there are exceptions to every rule as I've noticed a very, very small percentage of high-quality pieces that are occasionally posted and, of those, an even smaller percentage that occasionally sell for a reasonable price. I've also noticed that this very, very small percentage appears to be increasing as many European dealers have begun to tap into the American tribal art market (the value of the dollar notwithstanding) due no doubt to the downturn in the market.
          >
          > I'd welcome any thoughts folks may have on the piece or my observation.
          >
          > Best Regards,
          >
          > Chris
          >
        • Steve Price
          Hi Coleman I m glad it worked out for you. I had a similar experience with Sotheby s (NY) many years ago, and learned that finding out what the shipping
          Message 4 of 12 , Aug 5, 2009
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            Hi Coleman

            I'm glad it worked out for you. I had a similar experience with Sotheby's (NY) many years ago, and learned that finding out what the shipping charges would be is an important step to take before bidding. In my case, the item was an oriental rug, which they insisted on packaging as though it was a fragile sculpture. It arrived in a big wooden box, so nicely made that I gave some thought to keeping it for use as my coffin when the time comes.

            Regards

            Steve Price



            --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "oliviersalandini" <oliviersalandini@...> wrote:
            >
            > Hi Chris,
            >
            > If you believe that it's a remarkably well-carved piece no one can help you out.
            > Best regards.
            > Olivier
            >
            >
            > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "congabongoman" <congabongoman@> wrote:
            > >
            > > Hi All--
            > >
            > > I greatly enjoyed the recent discussions on authenticity but chose not to weigh in as I'd already shared my views in posts on prior topics. I've posted photos of an old and beautiful chief's scepter that I just acquired in an album appropriately entitled "Yaka scepter": http://groups.yahoo.com/group/African_Arts/photos/album/1442146928/pic/list
            > > and thought I would share it with the group for two reasons. The first is that it's a remarkably well-carved piece with male and female janus (and Janet?) faces that are stikingly realistic but, at the same time, elongated in an expressionistic vein. Does anyone know of any similar examples from the Yaka or other DRC peoples for reference? Note, there is some some old repair (or embellishment) work in bitumen on the faces and a small piece missing.
            > >
            > > The second reason is that I acquired it from, gulp, Ebay. It's from a reputable Belgium seller that provided a written provenence indicating the staff was from the collection of Paul and Diane Sergeant, was collected by them in the 1960s and is early 20th C. Even better, I got it at an extremely good price for a piece of this quality (with free shipping). Anyway, while Ebay's reputation for selling fake african art pieces (most of which are poorly carved, at that) is well-deserved, I think there are exceptions to every rule as I've noticed a very, very small percentage of high-quality pieces that are occasionally posted and, of those, an even smaller percentage that occasionally sell for a reasonable price. I've also noticed that this very, very small percentage appears to be increasing as many European dealers have begun to tap into the American tribal art market (the value of the dollar notwithstanding) due no doubt to the downturn in the market.
            > >
            > > I'd welcome any thoughts folks may have on the piece or my observation.
            > >
            > > Best Regards,
            > >
            > > Chris
            > >
            >
          • M.E.F.
            ... From: Steve Price Subject: [African_Arts] Re: A Yaka Chief s Scepter --on Ebay?! To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com Date: Wednesday, August
            Message 5 of 12 , Aug 5, 2009
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              --- On Wed, 8/5/09, Steve Price <sprice@...> wrote:

              From: Steve Price <sprice@...>
              Subject: [African_Arts] Re: A Yaka Chief's Scepter --on Ebay?!
              To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
              Date: Wednesday, August 5, 2009, 9:14 PM

               
              Hi Coleman

              I'm glad it worked out for you. I had a similar experience with Sotheby's (NY) many years ago, and learned that finding out what the shipping charges would be is an important step to take before bidding. In my case, the item was an oriental rug, which they insisted on packaging as though it was a fragile sculpture. It arrived in a big wooden box, so nicely made that I gave some thought to keeping it for use as my coffin when the time comes.

              Regards

              Steve Price

              --- In African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com, "oliviersalandini" <oliviersalandini@ ...> wrote:
              >
              > Hi Chris,
              >
              > If you believe that it's a remarkably well-carved piece no one can help you out.
              > Best regards.
              > Olivier
              >
              >
              > --- In African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com, "congabongoman" <congabongoman@ > wrote:
              > >
              > > Hi All--
              > >
              > > I greatly enjoyed the recent discussions on authenticity but chose not to weigh in as I'd already shared my views in posts on prior topics. I've posted photos of an old and beautiful chief's scepter that I just acquired in an album appropriately entitled "Yaka scepter": http://groups. yahoo.com/ group/African_ Arts/photos/ album/1442146928 /pic/list
              > > and thought I would share it with the group for two reasons. The first is that it's a remarkably well-carved piece with male and female janus (and Janet?) faces that are stikingly realistic but, at the same time, elongated in an expressionistic vein. Does anyone know of any similar examples from the Yaka or other DRC peoples for reference? Note, there is some some old repair (or embellishment) work in bitumen on the faces and a small piece missing.
              > >
              > > The second reason is that I acquired it from, gulp, Ebay. It's from a reputable Belgium seller that provided a written provenence indicating the staff was from the collection of Paul and Diane Sergeant, was collected by them in the 1960s and is early 20th C. Even better, I got it at an extremely good price for a piece of this quality (with free shipping). Anyway, while Ebay's reputation for selling fake african art pieces (most of which are poorly carved, at that) is well-deserved, I think there are exceptions to every rule as I've noticed a very, very small percentage of high-quality pieces that are occasionally posted and, of those, an even smaller percentage that occasionally sell for a reasonable price. I've also noticed that this very, very small percentage appears to be increasing as many European dealers have begun to tap into the American tribal art market (the value of the dollar notwithstanding) due no doubt to the downturn in the market.
              > >
              > > I'd welcome any thoughts folks may have on the piece or my observation.
              > >
              > > Best Regards,
              > >
              > > Chris
              > >
              >


            • congabongoman
              As they say everybody s got one --an opinion, that is. The delicate treatment in the expressions of the faces on the staff is why I stand by mine, although
              Message 6 of 12 , Aug 6, 2009
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                As they say "everybody's got one"--an opinion, that is. The delicate treatment in the expressions of the faces on the staff is why I stand by mine, although the piece is certainly less ornate and intricate than many carvings out there. As the prices achieved for certain Fang reliquary heads has shown, it's often the subtlety of expression with carved faces, rather than any overt details in the carving, which makes them desireable.

                Regards,

                Chris


                --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "oliviersalandini" <oliviersalandini@...> wrote:
                >
                > Hi Chris,
                >
                > If you believe that it's a remarkably well-carved piece no one can help you out.
                > Best regards.
                > Olivier
                >
                >
                > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "congabongoman" <congabongoman@> wrote:
                > >
                > > Hi All--
                > >
                > > I greatly enjoyed the recent discussions on authenticity but chose not to weigh in as I'd already shared my views in posts on prior topics. I've posted photos of an old and beautiful chief's scepter that I just acquired in an album appropriately entitled "Yaka scepter": http://groups.yahoo.com/group/African_Arts/photos/album/1442146928/pic/list
                > > and thought I would share it with the group for two reasons. The first is that it's a remarkably well-carved piece with male and female janus (and Janet?) faces that are stikingly realistic but, at the same time, elongated in an expressionistic vein. Does anyone know of any similar examples from the Yaka or other DRC peoples for reference? Note, there is some some old repair (or embellishment) work in bitumen on the faces and a small piece missing.
                > >
                > > The second reason is that I acquired it from, gulp, Ebay. It's from a reputable Belgium seller that provided a written provenence indicating the staff was from the collection of Paul and Diane Sergeant, was collected by them in the 1960s and is early 20th C. Even better, I got it at an extremely good price for a piece of this quality (with free shipping). Anyway, while Ebay's reputation for selling fake african art pieces (most of which are poorly carved, at that) is well-deserved, I think there are exceptions to every rule as I've noticed a very, very small percentage of high-quality pieces that are occasionally posted and, of those, an even smaller percentage that occasionally sell for a reasonable price. I've also noticed that this very, very small percentage appears to be increasing as many European dealers have begun to tap into the American tribal art market (the value of the dollar notwithstanding) due no doubt to the downturn in the market.
                > >
                > > I'd welcome any thoughts folks may have on the piece or my observation.
                > >
                > > Best Regards,
                > >
                > > Chris
                > >
                >
              • GARYGLS2000@aol.com
                One of the reasons good pieces are showing up on Ebay is because elderly collectors are passing away and their families have no idea of the value of the items
                Message 7 of 12 , Aug 23, 2009
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                  One of the reasons good pieces are showing up on Ebay is because elderly collectors are passing away and their families have no idea of the value of the items or where to go to sell them.
                   
                  In a message dated 7/15/2009 11:36:40 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time, congabongoman@... writes:


                  Hi All--

                  I greatly enjoyed the recent discussions on authenticity but chose not to weigh in as I'd already shared my views in posts on prior topics. I've posted photos of an old and beautiful chief's scepter that I just acquired in an album appropriately entitled "Yaka scepter": http://groups. yahoo.com/ group/African_ Arts/photos/ album/1442146928 /pic/list
                  and thought I would share it with the group for two reasons. The first is that it's a remarkably well-carved piece with male and female janus (and Janet?) faces that are stikingly realistic but, at the same time, elongated in an expressionistic vein. Does anyone know of any similar examples from the Yaka or other DRC peoples for reference? Note, there is some some old repair (or embellishment) work in bitumen on the faces and a small piece missing.

                  The second reason is that I acquired it from, gulp, Ebay. It's from a reputable Belgium seller that provided a written provenence indicating the staff was from the collection of Paul and Diane Sergeant, was collected by them in the 1960s and is early 20th C. Even better, I got it at an extremely good price for a piece of this quality (with free shipping). Anyway, while Ebay's reputation for selling fake african art pieces (most of which are poorly carved, at that) is well-deserved, I think there are exceptions to every rule as I've noticed a very, very small percentage of high-quality pieces that are occasionally posted and, of those, an even smaller percentage that occasionally sell for a reasonable price. I've also noticed that this very, very small percentage appears to be increasing as many European dealers have begun to tap into the American tribal art market (the value of the dollar notwithstanding) due no doubt to the downturn in the market.

                  I'd welcome any thoughts folks may have on the piece or my observation.

                  Best Regards,

                  Chris

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