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Re: Hemba fetishes, luba medicine cup and tabwa fetish stool

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  • Chris
    While I realize that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and don t expect folks to share my aesthetic tastes, frankly I m shocked and a bit puzzled that no
    Message 1 of 20 , Sep 16, 2010
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      While I realize that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and don't expect folks to share my aesthetic tastes, frankly I'm shocked and a bit puzzled that no one appears to see the same features that I do in these pieces either stylistically or with respect to patina. By way of example, in my opinion, the jagged and scarred but shiny surface on the top of the Tabwa stool suggests that it was used (like a cutting board) for many years. Like the patina on the roughly carved body of the Hemba fetish, in my experience such patina on uneven and non-smooth surfaces is very hard to fake without the piece looking "dipped" or glazed in a very artificial way. Most commercially produced pieces, by contrast, look almost polished or sanded and show no nicks, scratches or other surface anomalies. Also, on the Hemba figure, I see old (dark) remnants of insect damage and lots of grime around the feet---again, showing variation from the sshininess of the top and suggesting that this piece has been around for a long time (and not on a shelf). Again, the commercial pieces I see for sale don't have such varied surfaces and tend to be evenly "dirty" or shiny throughout.

      Since it's tough making a comparison in a vaccuum, perhaps you or Lee could identify a "commercial" piece or two (ie, provide a link or picture) that you believe are comparable to assist in this discussion?

      Chris

      --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "rpearsonpe" <rpearsonpe@...> wrote:
      >
      > I agree with Lee, the pieces appear to be 'made for the trade' and are worth whatever your buyer paid for them. That said, new pieces 'made for the trade' can be nice 'decorations', but not interesting to a collector.
      >
      > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Lee Rubinstein <LeeRubinstein@> wrote:
      > >
      > > Chris:
      > >
      > > In all honesty, I don't see anything among the objects pictured that
      > > transcends the quality of commercial offerings from various other
      > > sources including that to which you refer as "all the junk on Ebay."
      > > All of these pieces -- figures, posts, etc., seem to be on par with
      > > the bulk of contemporary, commercially produced offerings --
      > > competently carved but in no way compelling and displaying surfaces
      > > and damages suggestive but not indicative of age and use. Cameroon
      > > is but one locale which serves as home to skillful carvers, and I
      > > imagine these pieces may have been carved in the Congo region but with
      > > the same intent as in workshops elsewhere on the continent. If the
      > > pieces move you, however, enjoy them and support the livelihoods of
      > > the carvers and traders, but I would be careful not to conflate
      > > aesthetic appreciation (which I must admit eludes me in these
      > > instances) with a reading of age and/or authenticity. That's just my
      > > take, and I hope this doesn't sound overly harsh. I am curious to
      > > hear your observations on how you perceive that these pieces surpass
      > > the many similar offerings on the market which are nearly identical in
      > > form, detail and quality of carving and whether anyone agrees or
      > > disagrees....
      > >
      > > Lee
      > >
      > >
      > > On Sep 14, 2010, at 10:02 AM, Chris wrote:
      > >
      > > > I forgot to add that these [the Tabwa posts] are Tabwa Funkula.
      > > >
      > > > I've posted pics of some other exceptional DRC items that my friend
      > > > will be bringing stateside next month:
      > > > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/African_Arts/photos/album/560798420/pic/list
      > > >
      > > > These are all very old and great quality. They include:
      > > >
      > > > an excellent hemba ancestor fetish (this is about a foot tall--the
      > > > patina and expressiveness of the face are exceptional on this piece);
      > > >
      > > > a Luba-Hemba janus figure--nice example (approx. 16 inches tall);
      > > >
      > > > an anthropomorthic Luba medicine cup (approx. 15 inches tall--
      > > > slightly damaged but very old and nice); and
      > > >
      > > > a small Tabwa fetish stool/table (this is around 9 inches tall, also
      > > > damaged).
      > > >
      > > > Anyway, with all the junk on Ebay being carved in Cameroon and
      > > > claiming to be DRC pieces, I thought I'd post some pics of the real
      > > > things, which are scarce and becoming increasingly so.
      > > >
      > > > Any thoughts or comments welcome.
      > > >
      > > > Chris
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > >
      >
    • Ed Jones
      ... By way of example, in my opinion, the jagged and scarred but shiny surface on the top of the Tabwa stool suggests that it was used (like a cutting board)
      Message 2 of 20 , Sep 17, 2010
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        ... By way of example, in my opinion, the jagged and scarred but shiny surface on the top of the Tabwa stool suggests that it was used (like a cutting board) for many years.  
         
        Chris,
        Worn and "patinized" wood is not rough or worn in this way.  I think the photo of the top of this stool is not consistent with that of a used one, but clearly indicates a "made fro the market" piece, and is really rather an insult (in my opinion) of aged and genunine tribal stool-tops made and used for sitting.  Take a closer observation of the rest of the piece equally.  Considering it's purpose and asthetic relevence, "would you accept or sit on something like this" ??  Genuine relics were certainly crafted with much more technical ability.  This is crude and lacks any artisian value... That of a "fake" (and I hate to use this word), or deceptive piece for the unassuming.
         
        I do agree with you, in a sense, the upper surface it is much like a (cheap) and well used "cutting board".
         
        Ed  


        From: Chris <congabongoman@...>
        To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Thu, September 16, 2010 6:36:01 AM
        Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Hemba fetishes, luba medicine cup and tabwa fetish stool

         

        While I realize that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and don't expect folks to share my aesthetic tastes, frankly I'm shocked and a bit puzzled that no one appears to see the same features that I do in these pieces either stylistically or with respect to patina. By way of example, in my opinion, the jagged and scarred but shiny surface on the top of the Tabwa stool suggests that it was used (like a cutting board) for many years. Like the patina on the roughly carved body of the Hemba fetish, in my experience such patina on uneven and non-smooth surfaces is very hard to fake without the piece looking "dipped" or glazed in a very artificial way. Most commercially produced pieces, by contrast, look almost polished or sanded and show no nicks, scratches or other surface anomalies. Also, on the Hemba figure, I see old (dark) remnants of insect damage and lots of grime around the feet---again, showing variation from the sshininess of the top and suggesting that this piece has been around for a long time (and not on a shelf). Again, the commercial pieces I see for sale don't have such varied surfaces and tend to be evenly "dirty" or shiny throughout.

        Since it's tough making a comparison in a vaccuum, perhaps you or Lee could identify a "commercial" piece or two (ie, provide a link or picture) that you believe are comparable to assist in this discussion?

        Chris

        --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "rpearsonpe" <rpearsonpe@...> wrote:
        >
        > I agree with Lee, the pieces appear to be 'made for the trade' and are worth whatever your buyer paid for them. That said, new pieces 'made for the trade' can be nice 'decorations', but not interesting to a collector.
        >
        > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Lee Rubinstein <LeeRubinstein@> wrote:
        > >
        > > Chris:
        > >
        > > In all honesty, I don't see anything among the objects pictured that
        > > transcends the quality of commercial offerings from various other
        > > sources including that to which you refer as "all the junk on Ebay."
        > > All of these pieces -- figures, posts, etc., seem to be on par with
        > > the bulk of contemporary, commercially produced offerings --
        > > competently carved but in no way compelling and displaying surfaces
        > > and damages suggestive but not indicative of age and use. Cameroon
        > > is but one locale which serves as home to skillful carvers, and I
        > > imagine these pieces may have been carved in the Congo region but with
        > > the same intent as in workshops elsewhere on the continent. If the
        > > pieces move you, however, enjoy them and support the livelihoods of
        > > the carvers and traders, but I would be careful not to conflate
        > > aesthetic appreciation (which I must admit eludes me in these
        > > instances) with a reading of age and/or authenticity. That's just my
        > > take, and I hope this doesn't sound overly harsh. I am curious to
        > > hear your observations on how you perceive that these pieces surpass
        > > the many similar offerings on the market which are nearly identical in
        > > form, detail and quality of carving and whether anyone agrees or
        > > disagrees....
        > >
        > > Lee
        > >
        > >
        > > On Sep 14, 2010, at 10:02 AM, Chris wrote:
        > >
        > > > I forgot to add that these [the Tabwa posts] are Tabwa Funkula.
        > > >
        > > > I've posted pics of some other exceptional DRC items that my friend
        > > > will be bringing stateside next month:
        > > > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/African_Arts/photos/album/560798420/pic/list
        > > >
        > > > These are all very old and great quality. They include:
        > > >
        > > > an excellent hemba ancestor fetish (this is about a foot tall--the
        > > > patina and expressiveness of the face are exceptional on this piece);
        > > >
        > > > a Luba-Hemba janus figure--nice example (approx. 16 inches tall);
        > > >
        > > > an anthropomorthic Luba medicine cup (approx. 15 inches tall--
        > > > slightly damaged but very old and nice); and
        > > >
        > > > a small Tabwa fetish stool/table (this is around 9 inches tall, also
        > > > damaged).
        > > >
        > > > Anyway, with all the junk on Ebay being carved in Cameroon and
        > > > claiming to be DRC pieces, I thought I'd post some pics of the real
        > > > things, which are scarce and becoming increasingly so.
        > > >
        > > > Any thoughts or comments welcome.
        > > >
        > > > Chris
        > > >
        > > >
        > > >
        > >
        >


      • DC NYC
        Sorry Chris but I will have to agree with Ed on this one. Whether or not these are fakes made in Cameroon claiming to be DRC is not the question. It seems they
        Message 3 of 20 , Sep 17, 2010
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          Sorry Chris but I will have to agree with Ed on this one. Whether or not these are fakes made in Cameroon claiming to be DRC is not the question. It seems they were made in Congo but very recently.

          I see objects like this quite frequently at the Chelsea storage unit where the Mali traders and other Africans sell poor quality and often fake objects. The photos of these objects are spot on in comparison to the low quality pieces being offered at the storage. You can also find Hemba pieces such as this at the flea market on 25th street opposite the Antiques galleries where Mark Eglinton has his gallery.

          I have seen many of the same type of late Hemba and Tabwa pieces for sale by the trader named Camera outside the Whitney museum on 76th Street and Madison Ave.

          If I can offer some advice I would say leave these objects in Africa, we don't need more of these types of objects in a market already flooded with copies meant to deceive. Try looking at examples of Congo pieces in Museums and reputable galleries to get an idea of what great quality looks like.

          Dave Cassera
          New York City
          www.ancienttribal.com




          --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Ed Jones <bucit@...> wrote:
          >
          >
          > ... By way of example, in my opinion, the jagged and scarred but shiny surface
          > on the top of the Tabwa stool suggests that it was used (like a cutting board)
          > for many years.  
          >
          > Chris,
          > Worn and "patinized" wood is not rough or worn in this way.  I think the photo
          > of the top of this stool is not consistent with that of a used one, but clearly
          > indicates a "made fro the market" piece, and is really rather an insult (in my
          > opinion) of aged and genunine tribal stool-tops made and used for sitting.  Take
          > a closer observation of the rest of the piece equally.  Considering it's purpose
          > and asthetic relevence, "would you accept or sit on something like this" ?? 
          > Genuine relics were certainly crafted with much more technical ability.  This
          > is crude and lacks any artisian value... That of a "fake" (and I hate to use
          > this word), or deceptive piece for the unassuming.
          >  
          > I do agree with you, in a sense, the upper surface it is much like a (cheap) and
          > well used "cutting board".
          >  
          > Ed  
          >
          >
          >
          >
          > ________________________________
          > From: Chris <congabongoman@...>
          > To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
          > Sent: Thu, September 16, 2010 6:36:01 AM
          > Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Hemba fetishes, luba medicine cup and tabwa fetish
          > stool
          >
          >  
          > While I realize that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and don't expect folks
          > to share my aesthetic tastes, frankly I'm shocked and a bit puzzled that no one
          > appears to see the same features that I do in these pieces either stylistically
          > or with respect to patina. By way of example, in my opinion, the jagged and
          > scarred but shiny surface on the top of the Tabwa stool suggests that it was
          > used (like a cutting board) for many years. Like the patina on the roughly
          > carved body of the Hemba fetish, in my experience such patina on uneven and
          > non-smooth surfaces is very hard to fake without the piece looking "dipped" or
          > glazed in a very artificial way. Most commercially produced pieces, by contrast,
          > look almost polished or sanded and show no nicks, scratches or other surface
          > anomalies. Also, on the Hemba figure, I see old (dark) remnants of insect damage
          > and lots of grime around the feet---again, showing variation from the sshininess
          > of the top and suggesting that this piece has been around for a long time (and
          > not on a shelf). Again, the commercial pieces I see for sale don't have such
          > varied surfaces and tend to be evenly "dirty" or shiny throughout.
          >
          > Since it's tough making a comparison in a vaccuum, perhaps you or Lee could
          > identify a "commercial" piece or two (ie, provide a link or picture) that you
          > believe are comparable to assist in this discussion?
          >
          > Chris
          >
          > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "rpearsonpe" <rpearsonpe@> wrote:
          > >
          > > I agree with Lee, the pieces appear to be 'made for the trade' and are worth
          > >whatever your buyer paid for them. That said, new pieces 'made for the trade'
          > >can be nice 'decorations', but not interesting to a collector.
          > >
          > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Lee Rubinstein <LeeRubinstein@> wrote:
          > > >
          > > > Chris:
          > > >
          > > > In all honesty, I don't see anything among the objects pictured that
          > > > transcends the quality of commercial offerings from various other
          > > > sources including that to which you refer as "all the junk on Ebay."
          > > > All of these pieces -- figures, posts, etc., seem to be on par with
          > > > the bulk of contemporary, commercially produced offerings --
          > > > competently carved but in no way compelling and displaying surfaces
          > > > and damages suggestive but not indicative of age and use. Cameroon
          > > > is but one locale which serves as home to skillful carvers, and I
          > > > imagine these pieces may have been carved in the Congo region but with
          > > > the same intent as in workshops elsewhere on the continent. If the
          > > > pieces move you, however, enjoy them and support the livelihoods of
          > > > the carvers and traders, but I would be careful not to conflate
          > > > aesthetic appreciation (which I must admit eludes me in these
          > > > instances) with a reading of age and/or authenticity. That's just my
          > > > take, and I hope this doesn't sound overly harsh. I am curious to
          > > > hear your observations on how you perceive that these pieces surpass
          > > > the many similar offerings on the market which are nearly identical in
          > > > form, detail and quality of carving and whether anyone agrees or
          > > > disagrees....
          > > >
          > > > Lee
          > > >
          > > >
          > > > On Sep 14, 2010, at 10:02 AM, Chris wrote:
          > > >
          > > > > I forgot to add that these [the Tabwa posts] are Tabwa Funkula.
          > > > >
          > > > > I've posted pics of some other exceptional DRC items that my friend
          > > > > will be bringing stateside next month:
          > > > > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/African_Arts/photos/album/560798420/pic/list
          > > > >
          > > > > These are all very old and great quality. They include:
          > > > >
          > > > > an excellent hemba ancestor fetish (this is about a foot tall--the
          > > > > patina and expressiveness of the face are exceptional on this piece);
          > > > >
          > > > > a Luba-Hemba janus figure--nice example (approx. 16 inches tall);
          > > > >
          > > > > an anthropomorthic Luba medicine cup (approx. 15 inches tall--
          > > > > slightly damaged but very old and nice); and
          > > > >
          > > > > a small Tabwa fetish stool/table (this is around 9 inches tall, also
          > > > > damaged).
          > > > >
          > > > > Anyway, with all the junk on Ebay being carved in Cameroon and
          > > > > claiming to be DRC pieces, I thought I'd post some pics of the real
          > > > > things, which are scarce and becoming increasingly so.
          > > > >
          > > > > Any thoughts or comments welcome.
          > > > >
          > > > > Chris
          > > > >
          > > > >
          > > > >
          > > >
          > >
          >
        • Chris
          Thanks for all the input. I have seen many congolese pieces in many museums and wouldn t expect more recent pieces to necessarily be of the same style or
          Message 4 of 20 , Sep 17, 2010
          • 0 Attachment
            Thanks for all the input. I have seen many congolese pieces in many museums and wouldn't expect more recent pieces to necessarily be of the same style or quality as those found in museums. Regardless of the authenticity (or not) of these pieces, I think it's interesting how many collectors and dealers seem to blur the lines between more recent congolese pieces, which may have been used ritually, and fakes made elsewhere, which are just fakes in the authenticity spectrum (ie, made to deceive).

            I'm curious as to the general consensus of opinion on this issue. Is it: 1. that there is no ritual use going on anymore; 2. that the culture of the peoples using them is no longer pristine, so the use doesn't really count; or perhaps 3. the ritually used pieces are so few now that they can't really be distinguished from non-used pieces, so all should be discounted? Personally, I think that 3 is the only justifiable position. I'm curious what others think.

            Given that, even with a more-contemporary and used piece, a carver may make extra copies of the same piece for sale, so there may not be any real difference between one and the other from an artistic standpoint but a significant difference in their market value. When it comes to this aspect of ritual use, I think it's interesting to what degree trust and "provenence" comes into play in determining value. I've heard that many pieces that are collected in the Congo today often end up sold with a manufactured provenence "from an old Belgian collection" or something similar before going into the market. Similarly, many pieces once in museum collections may be sold off later due to lack of established provenence or documented authenticity.

            I'll note that in reading the book on the african pieces from the Barnes collection, even in the 1930s it was said that there is no more real african art of any value remaining in Africa. Behind this belief, I think, is the misperception that the colonial powers "took all the good stuff" and that whatever remained or was subsequently made by the surviving peoples is of no value.

            On the flipside, from a purely aesthetic standpoint, I've also seen more contemporary pieces that I personally find more interesting artisticly than some older 19th C pieces.

            Given that aesthetics are inherently subjective, and, except in the cases of very clear documentation, the provenence on many pieces may ultimately be similarly based on trust or subjective opinions, which are not always trustworthy or infallible, I find the market forces at work in the african art world to be very unusual and interesting.

            Anyway, sorry for the ramble but I'm in a bit of a rush. I'm curious if anyone has any thoughts to add to this discussion. Thanks again.

            Chris

            --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "DC NYC" <davidcassera@...> wrote:
            >
            > Sorry Chris but I will have to agree with Ed on this one. Whether or not these are fakes made in Cameroon claiming to be DRC is not the question. It seems they were made in Congo but very recently.
            >
            > I see objects like this quite frequently at the Chelsea storage unit where the Mali traders and other Africans sell poor quality and often fake objects. The photos of these objects are spot on in comparison to the low quality pieces being offered at the storage. You can also find Hemba pieces such as this at the flea market on 25th street opposite the Antiques galleries where Mark Eglinton has his gallery.
            >
            > I have seen many of the same type of late Hemba and Tabwa pieces for sale by the trader named Camera outside the Whitney museum on 76th Street and Madison Ave.
            >
            > If I can offer some advice I would say leave these objects in Africa, we don't need more of these types of objects in a market already flooded with copies meant to deceive. Try looking at examples of Congo pieces in Museums and reputable galleries to get an idea of what great quality looks like.
            >
            > Dave Cassera
            > New York City
            > www.ancienttribal.com
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Ed Jones <bucit@> wrote:
            > >
            > >
            > > ... By way of example, in my opinion, the jagged and scarred but shiny surface
            > > on the top of the Tabwa stool suggests that it was used (like a cutting board)
            > > for many years.  
            > >
            > > Chris,
            > > Worn and "patinized" wood is not rough or worn in this way.  I think the photo
            > > of the top of this stool is not consistent with that of a used one, but clearly
            > > indicates a "made fro the market" piece, and is really rather an insult (in my
            > > opinion) of aged and genunine tribal stool-tops made and used for sitting.  Take
            > > a closer observation of the rest of the piece equally.  Considering it's purpose
            > > and asthetic relevence, "would you accept or sit on something like this" ?? 
            > > Genuine relics were certainly crafted with much more technical ability.  This
            > > is crude and lacks any artisian value... That of a "fake" (and I hate to use
            > > this word), or deceptive piece for the unassuming.
            > >  
            > > I do agree with you, in a sense, the upper surface it is much like a (cheap) and
            > > well used "cutting board".
            > >  
            > > Ed  
            > >
            > >
            > >
            > >
            > > ________________________________
            > > From: Chris <congabongoman@>
            > > To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
            > > Sent: Thu, September 16, 2010 6:36:01 AM
            > > Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Hemba fetishes, luba medicine cup and tabwa fetish
            > > stool
            > >
            > >  
            > > While I realize that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and don't expect folks
            > > to share my aesthetic tastes, frankly I'm shocked and a bit puzzled that no one
            > > appears to see the same features that I do in these pieces either stylistically
            > > or with respect to patina. By way of example, in my opinion, the jagged and
            > > scarred but shiny surface on the top of the Tabwa stool suggests that it was
            > > used (like a cutting board) for many years. Like the patina on the roughly
            > > carved body of the Hemba fetish, in my experience such patina on uneven and
            > > non-smooth surfaces is very hard to fake without the piece looking "dipped" or
            > > glazed in a very artificial way. Most commercially produced pieces, by contrast,
            > > look almost polished or sanded and show no nicks, scratches or other surface
            > > anomalies. Also, on the Hemba figure, I see old (dark) remnants of insect damage
            > > and lots of grime around the feet---again, showing variation from the sshininess
            > > of the top and suggesting that this piece has been around for a long time (and
            > > not on a shelf). Again, the commercial pieces I see for sale don't have such
            > > varied surfaces and tend to be evenly "dirty" or shiny throughout.
            > >
            > > Since it's tough making a comparison in a vaccuum, perhaps you or Lee could
            > > identify a "commercial" piece or two (ie, provide a link or picture) that you
            > > believe are comparable to assist in this discussion?
            > >
            > > Chris
            > >
            > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "rpearsonpe" <rpearsonpe@> wrote:
            > > >
            > > > I agree with Lee, the pieces appear to be 'made for the trade' and are worth
            > > >whatever your buyer paid for them. That said, new pieces 'made for the trade'
            > > >can be nice 'decorations', but not interesting to a collector.
            > > >
            > > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Lee Rubinstein <LeeRubinstein@> wrote:
            > > > >
            > > > > Chris:
            > > > >
            > > > > In all honesty, I don't see anything among the objects pictured that
            > > > > transcends the quality of commercial offerings from various other
            > > > > sources including that to which you refer as "all the junk on Ebay."
            > > > > All of these pieces -- figures, posts, etc., seem to be on par with
            > > > > the bulk of contemporary, commercially produced offerings --
            > > > > competently carved but in no way compelling and displaying surfaces
            > > > > and damages suggestive but not indicative of age and use. Cameroon
            > > > > is but one locale which serves as home to skillful carvers, and I
            > > > > imagine these pieces may have been carved in the Congo region but with
            > > > > the same intent as in workshops elsewhere on the continent. If the
            > > > > pieces move you, however, enjoy them and support the livelihoods of
            > > > > the carvers and traders, but I would be careful not to conflate
            > > > > aesthetic appreciation (which I must admit eludes me in these
            > > > > instances) with a reading of age and/or authenticity. That's just my
            > > > > take, and I hope this doesn't sound overly harsh. I am curious to
            > > > > hear your observations on how you perceive that these pieces surpass
            > > > > the many similar offerings on the market which are nearly identical in
            > > > > form, detail and quality of carving and whether anyone agrees or
            > > > > disagrees....
            > > > >
            > > > > Lee
            > > > >
            > > > >
            > > > > On Sep 14, 2010, at 10:02 AM, Chris wrote:
            > > > >
            > > > > > I forgot to add that these [the Tabwa posts] are Tabwa Funkula.
            > > > > >
            > > > > > I've posted pics of some other exceptional DRC items that my friend
            > > > > > will be bringing stateside next month:
            > > > > > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/African_Arts/photos/album/560798420/pic/list
            > > > > >
            > > > > > These are all very old and great quality. They include:
            > > > > >
            > > > > > an excellent hemba ancestor fetish (this is about a foot tall--the
            > > > > > patina and expressiveness of the face are exceptional on this piece);
            > > > > >
            > > > > > a Luba-Hemba janus figure--nice example (approx. 16 inches tall);
            > > > > >
            > > > > > an anthropomorthic Luba medicine cup (approx. 15 inches tall--
            > > > > > slightly damaged but very old and nice); and
            > > > > >
            > > > > > a small Tabwa fetish stool/table (this is around 9 inches tall, also
            > > > > > damaged).
            > > > > >
            > > > > > Anyway, with all the junk on Ebay being carved in Cameroon and
            > > > > > claiming to be DRC pieces, I thought I'd post some pics of the real
            > > > > > things, which are scarce and becoming increasingly so.
            > > > > >
            > > > > > Any thoughts or comments welcome.
            > > > > >
            > > > > > Chris
            > > > > >
            > > > > >
            > > > > >
            > > > >
            > > >
            > >
            >
          • Ann Polly
            Hello, Just had to add my two cents on this interesting thread. Firstly, I would like to share this interesting article on the issue of authenticity of African
            Message 5 of 20 , Sep 17, 2010
            • 0 Attachment
              Hello,
               
              Just had to add my two cents on this interesting thread.
               
              Firstly, I would like to share this interesting article on the issue of authenticity of African art:  http://www.maineantiquedigest.com/stories/?id=1823 .  
               
              I frequent a local African art store and had the pleasure to engage the owner in some frank discussions on authenticity.  She explained that she was once able to collect many tribally used pieces, but since the surge in popularity of African art, has found it exceedingly difficult. She said that many of these tribes realize the value in their tribal pieces, not purely from a monetary standpoint, but in terms of their cultural heritage.  She has watched many ceremonies and watched swarms of "vultures" beg to buy the masks once it ended.  According to her, many of the tribes people now refuse to sell their pieces and instead, direct her to their local carvers.  She has encountered more frequently on her excursions what she calls "Western backlash" - a general belief that people from the West are only interested in stealing their sacred and valueable possessions.  
               
              Most of us would love to own a tribally used piece, but I think that authenticity also means supporting local carvers and artists.  People shouldn't be turned off because a piece is not tribally used.  How many people would willingly sell their family's tombstone...yet would want authentic African funerary figures. By purchasing recently created  pieces,  you not only acquire a beautiful piece of African art, but you also support local carvers and in doing so keep the tradition and skills alive. I'm also an artist and know all too well that often times artist have to chose between the pursuit of their art & living a modest life style, or finding more stable means of employment & putting art aside.  In Africa, I imagine the choice to become a carver is not an easy one.  She also explained to me that local artists do make pieces of lesser quality, as these sell at a cheaper price and thus are more likely to be purchased.  More intricate pieces, take more time.  But if the demand for better quality pieces would grow, a supply of these will surely follow.  
               
              Another point she made was concerning the carvers artistic interpretation of a traditional piece.  As an artist, I should be more sensitive to that desire to add one's own stamp to a piece. But I admit that I'm conflicted because I secretly yearn to own that African antique and having one that is a significant departure from the examples in museums, well...breaks the illusion. It is an interesting dilemna, there is a high demand for traditional pieces, but many carvers want to be creative and take these traditional pieces into a new direction or fresh interpretation. Unfortunately, these pieces don't sell, and many  carvers are essentially stifled.  The store owner bought some of these pieces, and they are still on her shelves.  Right now there is a lovely male Chi wara on her self because it horns are different.
               
              My apologies for rambling on....I'm usually lurking in the shadows, quietly reading the emails...must be a full moon!
               
              Lisa



              From: Chris <congabongoman@...>
              To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
              Sent: Fri, September 17, 2010 11:06:10 AM
              Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Hemba fetishes, luba medicine cup and tabwa fetish stool

              Thanks for all the input.  I have seen many congolese pieces in many museums and wouldn't expect more recent pieces to necessarily be of the same style or quality as those found in museums.  Regardless of the authenticity (or not) of these pieces, I think it's interesting how many collectors and dealers seem to blur the lines between more recent congolese pieces, which may have been used ritually, and fakes made elsewhere, which are just fakes in the authenticity spectrum (ie, made to deceive).

              I'm curious as to the general consensus of opinion on this issue.  Is it: 1. that there is no ritual use going on anymore; 2. that the culture of the peoples using them is no longer pristine, so the use doesn't really count; or perhaps 3. the ritually used pieces are so few now that they can't really be distinguished from non-used pieces, so all should be discounted?  Personally, I think that 3 is the only justifiable position.  I'm curious what others think.

              Given that, even with a more-contemporary and used piece, a carver may make extra copies of the same piece for sale, so there may not be any real difference between one and the other from an artistic standpoint but a significant difference in their market value.  When it comes to this aspect of ritual use, I think it's interesting to what degree trust and "provenence" comes into play in determining value. I've heard that many pieces that are collected in the Congo today often end up sold with a manufactured provenence "from an old Belgian collection" or something similar before going into the market.  Similarly, many pieces once in museum collections may be sold off later due to lack of established provenence or documented authenticity.

              I'll note that in reading the book on the african pieces from the Barnes collection, even in the 1930s it was said that there is no more real african art of any value remaining in Africa.  Behind this belief, I think, is the misperception that the colonial powers "took all the good stuff" and that whatever remained or was subsequently made by the surviving peoples is of no value.

              On the flipside, from a purely aesthetic standpoint, I've also seen more contemporary pieces that I personally find more interesting artisticly than some older 19th C pieces. 

              Given that aesthetics are inherently subjective, and, except in the cases of very clear documentation, the provenence on many pieces may ultimately be similarly based on trust or subjective opinions, which are not always trustworthy or infallible, I find the market forces at work in the african art world to be very unusual and interesting.

              Anyway, sorry for the ramble but I'm in a bit of a rush.  I'm curious if anyone has any thoughts to add to this discussion.  Thanks again.

              Chris

              --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "DC NYC" <davidcassera@...> wrote:
              >
              > Sorry Chris but I will have to agree with Ed on this one. Whether or not these are fakes made in Cameroon claiming to be DRC is not the question. It seems they were made in Congo but very recently.
              >
              > I see objects like this quite frequently at the Chelsea storage unit where the Mali traders and other Africans sell poor quality and often fake objects. The photos of these objects are spot on in comparison to the low quality pieces being offered at the storage. You can also find Hemba pieces such as this at the flea market on 25th street opposite the Antiques galleries where Mark Eglinton has his gallery.
              >
              > I have seen many of the same type of late Hemba and Tabwa pieces for sale by the trader named Camera outside the Whitney museum on 76th Street and Madison Ave.
              >
              > If I can offer some advice I would say leave these objects in Africa, we don't need more of these types of objects in a market already flooded with copies meant to deceive. Try looking at examples of Congo pieces in Museums and reputable galleries to get an idea of what great quality looks like.
              >
              > Dave Cassera
              > New York City
              > www.ancienttribal.com
              >
              >
              >
              >
              > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Ed Jones <bucit@> wrote:
              > >
              > >
              > > ... By way of example, in my opinion, the jagged and scarred but shiny surface
              > > on the top of the Tabwa stool suggests that it was used (like a cutting board)
              > > for many years.  
              > >
              > > Chris,
              > > Worn and "patinized" wood is not rough or worn in this way.  I think the photo
              > > of the top of this stool is not consistent with that of a used one, but clearly
              > > indicates a "made fro the market" piece, and is really rather an insult (in my
              > > opinion) of aged and genunine tribal stool-tops made and used for sitting.  Take
              > > a closer observation of the rest of the piece equally.  Considering it's purpose
              > > and asthetic relevence, "would you accept or sit on something like this" ?? 
              > > Genuine relics were certainly crafted with much more technical ability.  This
              > > is crude and lacks any artisian value... That of a "fake" (and I hate to use
              > > this word), or deceptive piece for the unassuming.
              > >  
              > > I do agree with you, in a sense, the upper surface it is much like a (cheap) and
              > > well used "cutting board".
              > >  
              > > Ed  
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > > ________________________________
              > > From: Chris <congabongoman@>
              > > To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
              > > Sent: Thu, September 16, 2010 6:36:01 AM
              > > Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Hemba fetishes, luba medicine cup and tabwa fetish
              > > stool
              > >
              > >  
              > > While I realize that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and don't expect folks
              > > to share my aesthetic tastes, frankly I'm shocked and a bit puzzled that no one
              > > appears to see the same features that I do in these pieces either stylistically
              > > or with respect to patina. By way of example, in my opinion, the jagged and
              > > scarred but shiny surface on the top of the Tabwa stool suggests that it was
              > > used (like a cutting board) for many years. Like the patina on the roughly
              > > carved body of the Hemba fetish, in my experience such patina on uneven and
              > > non-smooth surfaces is very hard to fake without the piece looking "dipped" or
              > > glazed in a very artificial way. Most commercially produced pieces, by contrast,
              > > look almost polished or sanded and show no nicks, scratches or other surface
              > > anomalies. Also, on the Hemba figure, I see old (dark) remnants of insect damage
              > > and lots of grime around the feet---again, showing variation from the sshininess
              > > of the top and suggesting that this piece has been around for a long time (and
              > > not on a shelf). Again, the commercial pieces I see for sale don't have such
              > > varied surfaces and tend to be evenly "dirty" or shiny throughout.
              > >
              > > Since it's tough making a comparison in a vaccuum, perhaps you or Lee could
              > > identify a "commercial" piece or two (ie, provide a link or picture) that you
              > > believe are comparable to assist in this discussion?
              > >
              > > Chris
              > >
              > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "rpearsonpe" <rpearsonpe@> wrote:
              > > >
              > > > I agree with Lee, the pieces appear to be 'made for the trade' and are worth
              > > >whatever your buyer paid for them. That said, new pieces 'made for the trade'
              > > >can be nice 'decorations', but not interesting to a collector.
              > > >
              > > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Lee Rubinstein <LeeRubinstein@> wrote:
              > > > >
              > > > > Chris:
              > > > >
              > > > > In all honesty, I don't see anything among the objects pictured that
              > > > > transcends the quality of commercial offerings from various other
              > > > > sources including that to which you refer as "all the junk on Ebay."
              > > > > All of these pieces -- figures, posts, etc., seem to be on par with
              > > > > the bulk of contemporary, commercially produced offerings --
              > > > > competently carved but in no way compelling and displaying surfaces
              > > > > and damages suggestive but not indicative of age and use. Cameroon
              > > > > is but one locale which serves as home to skillful carvers, and I
              > > > > imagine these pieces may have been carved in the Congo region but with
              > > > > the same intent as in workshops elsewhere on the continent. If the
              > > > > pieces move you, however, enjoy them and support the livelihoods of
              > > > > the carvers and traders, but I would be careful not to conflate
              > > > > aesthetic appreciation (which I must admit eludes me in these
              > > > > instances) with a reading of age and/or authenticity. That's just my
              > > > > take, and I hope this doesn't sound overly harsh. I am curious to
              > > > > hear your observations on how you perceive that these pieces surpass
              > > > > the many similar offerings on the market which are nearly identical in
              > > > > form, detail and quality of carving and whether anyone agrees or
              > > > > disagrees....
              > > > >
              > > > > Lee
              > > > >
              > > > >
              > > > > On Sep 14, 2010, at 10:02 AM, Chris wrote:
              > > > >
              > > > > > I forgot to add that these [the Tabwa posts] are Tabwa Funkula.
              > > > > >
              > > > > > I've posted pics of some other exceptional DRC items that my friend
              > > > > > will be bringing stateside next month:
              > > > > > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/African_Arts/photos/album/560798420/pic/list
              > > > > >
              > > > > > These are all very old and great quality. They include:
              > > > > >
              > > > > > an excellent hemba ancestor fetish (this is about a foot tall--the
              > > > > > patina and expressiveness of the face are exceptional on this piece);
              > > > > >
              > > > > > a Luba-Hemba janus figure--nice example (approx. 16 inches tall);
              > > > > >
              > > > > > an anthropomorthic Luba medicine cup (approx. 15 inches tall--
              > > > > > slightly damaged but very old and nice); and
              > > > > >
              > > > > > a small Tabwa fetish stool/table (this is around 9 inches tall, also
              > > > > > damaged).
              > > > > >
              > > > > > Anyway, with all the junk on Ebay being carved in Cameroon and
              > > > > > claiming to be DRC pieces, I thought I'd post some pics of the real
              > > > > > things, which are scarce and becoming increasingly so.
              > > > > >
              > > > > > Any thoughts or comments welcome.
              > > > > >
              > > > > > Chris
              > > > > >
              > > > > >
              > > > > >
              > > > >
              > > >
              > >
              >




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            • Ed Jones
              Lisa,   No one would legitimately debate the logic and principle of what you expressed (certainly me).  However, the conflict and confusion arises when
              Message 6 of 20 , Sep 17, 2010
              • 0 Attachment
                Lisa,
                 
                No one would legitimately debate the logic and principle of what you expressed (certainly me).  However, the conflict and confusion arises when someone believes (by deception, changing artistic expression or otherwise) that carved pieces taken in a "creative and new direction" are passed off as traditional and older relics.
                 
                Supporting fresh and "evolving" traditional forms is one thing... Assuming and presenting them to be old traditional
                carvings are something entirely different.  And the beat goes on...  
                 
                Ed

                 

                 


                From: Ann Polly <pollyanna2424@...>
                To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                Sent: Fri, September 17, 2010 2:48:07 PM
                Subject: Re: [African_Arts] Re: Hemba fetishes, luba medicine cup and tabwa fetish stool

                 

                Hello,
                 
                Just had to add my two cents on this interesting thread.
                 
                Firstly, I would like to share this interesting article on the issue of authenticity of African art:  http://www.maineantiquedigest.com/stories/?id=1823 .  
                 
                I frequent a local African art store and had the pleasure to engage the owner in some frank discussions on authenticity.  She explained that she was once able to collect many tribally used pieces, but since the surge in popularity of African art, has found it exceedingly difficult. She said that many of these tribes realize the value in their tribal pieces, not purely from a monetary standpoint, but in terms of their cultural heritage.  She has watched many ceremonies and watched swarms of "vultures" beg to buy the masks once it ended.  According to her, many of the tribes people now refuse to sell their pieces and instead, direct her to their local carvers.  She has encountered more frequently on her excursions what she calls "Western backlash" - a general belief that people from the West are only interested in stealing their sacred and valueable possessions.  
                 
                Most of us would love to own a tribally used piece, but I think that authenticity also means supporting local carvers and artists.  People shouldn't be turned off because a piece is not tribally used.  How many people would willingly sell their family's tombstone...yet would want authentic African funerary figures. By purchasing recently created  pieces,  you not only acquire a beautiful piece of African art, but you also support local carvers and in doing so keep the tradition and skills alive. I'm also an artist and know all too well that often times artist have to chose between the pursuit of their art & living a modest life style, or finding more stable means of employment & putting art aside.  In Africa, I imagine the choice to become a carver is not an easy one.  She also explained to me that local artists do make pieces of lesser quality, as these sell at a cheaper price and thus are more likely to be purchased.  More intricate pieces, take more time.  But if the demand for better quality pieces would grow, a supply of these will surely follow.  
                 
                Another point she made was concerning the carvers artistic interpretation of a traditional piece.  As an artist, I should be more sensitive to that desire to add one's own stamp to a piece. But I admit that I'm conflicted because I secretly yearn to own that African antique and having one that is a significant departure from the examples in museums, well...breaks the illusion. It is an interesting dilemna, there is a high demand for traditional pieces, but many carvers want to be creative and take these traditional pieces into a new direction or fresh interpretation. Unfortunately, these pieces don't sell, and many  carvers are essentially stifled.  The store owner bought some of these pieces, and they are still on her shelves.  Right now there is a lovely male Chi wara on her self because it horns are different.
                 
                My apologies for rambling on....I'm usually lurking in the shadows, quietly reading the emails...must be a full moon!
                 
                Lisa



                From: Chris <congabongoman@...>
                To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                Sent: Fri, September 17, 2010 11:06:10 AM
                Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Hemba fetishes, luba medicine cup and tabwa fetish stool

                Thanks for all the input.  I have seen many congolese pieces in many museums and wouldn't expect more recent pieces to necessarily be of the same style or quality as those found in museums.  Regardless of the authenticity (or not) of these pieces, I think it's interesting how many collectors and dealers seem to blur the lines between more recent congolese pieces, which may have been used ritually, and fakes made elsewhere, which are just fakes in the authenticity spectrum (ie, made to deceive).

                I'm curious as to the general consensus of opinion on this issue.  Is it: 1. that there is no ritual use going on anymore; 2. that the culture of the peoples using them is no longer pristine, so the use doesn't really count; or perhaps 3. the ritually used pieces are so few now that they can't really be distinguished from non-used pieces, so all should be discounted?  Personally, I think that 3 is the only justifiable position.  I'm curious what others think.

                Given that, even with a more-contemporary and used piece, a carver may make extra copies of the same piece for sale, so there may not be any real difference between one and the other from an artistic standpoint but a significant difference in their market value.  When it comes to this aspect of ritual use, I think it's interesting to what degree trust and "provenence" comes into play in determining value. I've heard that many pieces that are collected in the Congo today often end up sold with a manufactured provenence "from an old Belgian collection" or something similar before going into the market.  Similarly, many pieces once in museum collections may be sold off later due to lack of established provenence or documented authenticity.

                I'll note that in reading the book on the african pieces from the Barnes collection, even in the 1930s it was said that there is no more real african art of any value remaining in Africa.  Behind this belief, I think, is the misperception that the colonial powers "took all the good stuff" and that whatever remained or was subsequently made by the surviving peoples is of no value.

                On the flipside, from a purely aesthetic standpoint, I've also seen more contemporary pieces that I personally find more interesting artisticly than some older 19th C pieces. 

                Given that aesthetics are inherently subjective, and, except in the cases of very clear documentation, the provenence on many pieces may ultimately be similarly based on trust or subjective opinions, which are not always trustworthy or infallible, I find the market forces at work in the african art world to be very unusual and interesting.

                Anyway, sorry for the ramble but I'm in a bit of a rush.  I'm curious if anyone has any thoughts to add to this discussion.  Thanks again.

                Chris

                --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "DC NYC" <davidcassera@...> wrote:
                >
                > Sorry Chris but I will have to agree with Ed on this one. Whether or not these are fakes made in Cameroon claiming to be DRC is not the question. It seems they were made in Congo but very recently.
                >
                > I see objects like this quite frequently at the Chelsea storage unit where the Mali traders and other Africans sell poor quality and often fake objects. The photos of these objects are spot on in comparison to the low quality pieces being offered at the storage. You can also find Hemba pieces such as this at the flea market on 25th street opposite the Antiques galleries where Mark Eglinton has his gallery.
                >
                > I have seen many of the same type of late Hemba and Tabwa pieces for sale by the trader named Camera outside the Whitney museum on 76th Street and Madison Ave.
                >
                > If I can offer some advice I would say leave these objects in Africa, we don't need more of these types of objects in a market already flooded with copies meant to deceive. Try looking at examples of Congo pieces in Museums and reputable galleries to get an idea of what great quality looks like.
                >
                > Dave Cassera
                > New York City
                > www.ancienttribal.com
                >
                >
                >
                >
                > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Ed Jones <bucit@> wrote:
                > >
                > >
                > > ... By way of example, in my opinion, the jagged and scarred but shiny surface
                > > on the top of the Tabwa stool suggests that it was used (like a cutting board)
                > > for many years.  
                > >
                > > Chris,
                > > Worn and "patinized" wood is not rough or worn in this way.  I think the photo
                > > of the top of this stool is not consistent with that of a used one, but clearly
                > > indicates a "made fro the market" piece, and is really rather an insult (in my
                > > opinion) of aged and genunine tribal stool-tops made and used for sitting.  Take
                > > a closer observation of the rest of the piece equally.  Considering it's purpose
                > > and asthetic relevence, "would you accept or sit on something like this" ?? 
                > > Genuine relics were certainly crafted with much more technical ability.  This
                > > is crude and lacks any artisian value... That of a "fake" (and I hate to use
                > > this word), or deceptive piece for the unassuming.
                > >  
                > > I do agree with you, in a sense, the upper surface it is much like a (cheap) and
                > > well used "cutting board".
                > >  
                > > Ed  
                > >
                > >
                > >
                > >
                > > ________________________________
                > > From: Chris <congabongoman@>
                > > To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                > > Sent: Thu, September 16, 2010 6:36:01 AM
                > > Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Hemba fetishes, luba medicine cup and tabwa fetish
                > > stool
                > >
                > >  
                > > While I realize that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and don't expect folks
                > > to share my aesthetic tastes, frankly I'm shocked and a bit puzzled that no one
                > > appears to see the same features that I do in these pieces either stylistically
                > > or with respect to patina. By way of example, in my opinion, the jagged and
                > > scarred but shiny surface on the top of the Tabwa stool suggests that it was
                > > used (like a cutting board) for many years. Like the patina on the roughly
                > > carved body of the Hemba fetish, in my experience such patina on uneven and
                > > non-smooth surfaces is very hard to fake without the piece looking "dipped" or
                > > glazed in a very artificial way. Most commercially produced pieces, by contrast,
                > > look almost polished or sanded and show no nicks, scratches or other surface
                > > anomalies. Also, on the Hemba figure, I see old (dark) remnants of insect damage
                > > and lots of grime around the feet---again, showing variation from the sshininess
                > > of the top and suggesting that this piece has been around for a long time (and
                > > not on a shelf). Again, the commercial pieces I see for sale don't have such
                > > varied surfaces and tend to be evenly "dirty" or shiny throughout.
                > >
                > > Since it's tough making a comparison in a vaccuum, perhaps you or Lee could
                > > identify a "commercial" piece or two (ie, provide a link or picture) that you
                > > believe are comparable to assist in this discussion?
                > >
                > > Chris
                > >
                > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "rpearsonpe" <rpearsonpe@> wrote:
                > > >
                > > > I agree with Lee, the pieces appear to be 'made for the trade' and are worth
                > > >whatever your buyer paid for them. That said, new pieces 'made for the trade'
                > > >can be nice 'decorations', but not interesting to a collector.
                > > >
                > > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Lee Rubinstein <LeeRubinstein@> wrote:
                > > > >
                > > > > Chris:
                > > > >
                > > > > In all honesty, I don't see anything among the objects pictured that
                > > > > transcends the quality of commercial offerings from various other
                > > > > sources including that to which you refer as "all the junk on Ebay."
                > > > > All of these pieces -- figures, posts, etc., seem to be on par with
                > > > > the bulk of contemporary, commercially produced offerings --
                > > > > competently carved but in no way compelling and displaying surfaces
                > > > > and damages suggestive but not indicative of age and use. Cameroon
                > > > > is but one locale which serves as home to skillful carvers, and I
                > > > > imagine these pieces may have been carved in the Congo region but with
                > > > > the same intent as in workshops elsewhere on the continent. If the
                > > > > pieces move you, however, enjoy them and support the livelihoods of
                > > > > the carvers and traders, but I would be careful not to conflate
                > > > > aesthetic appreciation (which I must admit eludes me in these
                > > > > instances) with a reading of age and/or authenticity. That's just my
                > > > > take, and I hope this doesn't sound overly harsh. I am curious to
                > > > > hear your observations on how you perceive that these pieces surpass
                > > > > the many similar offerings on the market which are nearly identical in
                > > > > form, detail and quality of carving and whether anyone agrees or
                > > > > disagrees....
                > > > >
                > > > > Lee
                > > > >
                > > > >
                > > > > On Sep 14, 2010, at 10:02 AM, Chris wrote:
                > > > >
                > > > > > I forgot to add that these [the Tabwa posts] are Tabwa Funkula.
                > > > > >
                > > > > > I've posted pics of some other exceptional DRC items that my friend
                > > > > > will be bringing stateside next month:
                > > > > > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/African_Arts/photos/album/560798420/pic/list
                > > > > >
                > > > > > These are all very old and great quality. They include:
                > > > > >
                > > > > > an excellent hemba ancestor fetish (this is about a foot tall--the
                > > > > > patina and expressiveness of the face are exceptional on this piece);
                > > > > >
                > > > > > a Luba-Hemba janus figure--nice example (approx. 16 inches tall);
                > > > > >
                > > > > > an anthropomorthic Luba medicine cup (approx. 15 inches tall--
                > > > > > slightly damaged but very old and nice); and
                > > > > >
                > > > > > a small Tabwa fetish stool/table (this is around 9 inches tall, also
                > > > > > damaged).
                > > > > >
                > > > > > Anyway, with all the junk on Ebay being carved in Cameroon and
                > > > > > claiming to be DRC pieces, I thought I'd post some pics of the real
                > > > > > things, which are scarce and becoming increasingly so.
                > > > > >
                > > > > > Any thoughts or comments welcome.
                > > > > >
                > > > > > Chris
                > > > > >
                > > > > >
                > > > > >
                > > > >
                > > >
                > >
                >




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              • GARYGLS2000@aol.com
                The article on authenticity in African art is, ironically, illustrated by a number of highly questionable pieces. In a message dated 9/18/2010 3:11:45 A.M.
                Message 7 of 20 , Sep 18, 2010
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                  The article on authenticity in African art is, ironically, illustrated by a number of highly questionable pieces.
                   
                  In a message dated 9/18/2010 3:11:45 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time, bucit@... writes:
                   

                  Lisa,
                   
                  No one would legitimately debate the logic and principle of what you expressed (certainly me).  However, the conflict and confusion arises when someone believes (by deception, changing artistic expression or otherwise) that carved pieces taken in a "creative and new direction" are passed off as traditional and older relics.
                   
                  Supporting fresh and "evolving" traditional forms is one thing... Assuming and presenting them to be old traditional
                  carvings are something entirely different.  And the beat goes on...  
                   
                  Ed

                   

                   


                  From: Ann Polly <pollyanna2424@...>
                  To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                  Sent: Fri, September 17, 2010 2:48:07 PM
                  Subject: Re: [African_Arts] Re: Hemba fetishes, luba medicine cup and tabwa fetish stool


                   

                  Hello,
                   
                  Just had to add my two cents on this interesting thread.
                   
                  Firstly, I would like to share this interesting article on the issue of authenticity of African art:  http://www.maineantiquedigest.com/stories/?id=1823 .  
                   
                  I frequent a local African art store and had the pleasure to engage the owner in some frank discussions on authenticity.  She explained that she was once able to collect many tribally used pieces, but since the surge in popularity of African art, has found it exceedingly difficult. She said that many of these tribes realize the value in their tribal pieces, not purely from a monetary standpoint, but in terms of their cultural heritage.  She has watched many ceremonies and watched swarms of "vultures" beg to buy the masks once it ended.  According to her, many of the tribes people now refuse to sell their pieces and instead, direct her to their local carvers.  She has encountered more frequently on her excursions what she calls "Western backlash" - a general belief that people from the West are only interested in stealing their sacred and valueable possessions.  
                   
                  Most of us would love to own a tribally used piece, but I think that authenticity also means supporting local carvers and artists.  People shouldn't be turned off because a piece is not tribally used.  How many people would willingly sell their family's tombstone...yet would want authentic African funerary figures. By purchasing recently created  pieces,  you not only acquire a beautiful piece of African art, but you also support local carvers and in doing so keep the tradition and skills alive. I'm also an artist and know all too well that often times artist have to chose between the pursuit of their art & living a modest life style, or finding more stable means of employment & putting art aside.  In Africa, I imagine the choice to become a carver is not an easy one.  She also explained to me that local artists do make pieces of lesser quality, as these sell at a cheaper price and thus are more likely to be purchased.  More intricate pieces, take more time.  But if the demand for better quality pieces would grow, a supply of these will surely follow.  
                   
                  Another point she made was concerning the carvers artistic interpretation of a traditional piece.  As an artist, I should be more sensitive to that desire to add one's own stamp to a piece. But I admit that I'm conflicted because I secretly yearn to own that African antique and having one that is a significant departure from the examples in museums, well...breaks the illusion. It is an interesting dilemna, there is a high demand for traditional pieces, but many carvers want to be creative and take these traditional pieces into a new direction or fresh interpretation. Unfortunately, these pieces don't sell, and many  carvers are essentially stifled.  The store owner bought some of these pieces, and they are still on her shelves.  Right now there is a lovely male Chi wara on her self because it horns are different.
                   
                  My apologies for rambling on....I'm usually lurking in the shadows, quietly reading the emails...must be a full moon!
                   
                  Lisa



                  From: Chris <congabongoman@...>
                  To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                  Sent: Fri, September 17, 2010 11:06:10 AM
                  Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Hemba fetishes, luba medicine cup and tabwa fetish stool

                  Thanks for all the input.  I have seen many congolese pieces in many museums and wouldn't expect more recent pieces to necessarily be of the same style or quality as those found in museums.  Regardless of the authenticity (or not) of these pieces, I think it's interesting how many collectors and dealers seem to blur the lines between more recent congolese pieces, which may have been used ritually, and fakes made elsewhere, which are just fakes in the authenticity spectrum (ie, made to deceive).

                  I'm curious as to the general consensus of opinion on this issue.  Is it: 1. that there is no ritual use going on anymore; 2. that the culture of the peoples using them is no longer pristine, so the use doesn't really count; or perhaps 3. the ritually used pieces are so few now that they can't really be distinguished from non-used pieces, so all should be discounted?  Personally, I think that 3 is the only justifiable position.  I'm curious what others think.

                  Given that, even with a more-contemporary and used piece, a carver may make extra copies of the same piece for sale, so there may not be any real difference between one and the other from an artistic standpoint but a significant difference in their market value.  When it comes to this aspect of ritual use, I think it's interesting to what degree trust and "provenence" comes into play in determining value. I've heard that many pieces that are collected in the Congo today often end up sold with a manufactured provenence "from an old Belgian collection" or something similar before going into the market.  Similarly, many pieces once in museum collections may be sold off later due to lack of established provenence or documented authenticity.

                  I'll note that in reading the book on the african pieces from the Barnes collection, even in the 1930s it was said that there is no more real african art of any value remaining in Africa.  Behind this belief, I think, is the misperception that the colonial powers "took all the good stuff" and that whatever remained or was subsequently made by the surviving peoples is of no value.

                  On the flipside, from a purely aesthetic standpoint, I've also seen more contemporary pieces that I personally find more interesting artisticly than some older 19th C pieces. 

                  Given that aesthetics are inherently subjective, and, except in the cases of very clear documentation, the provenence on many pieces may ultimately be similarly based on trust or subjective opinions, which are not always trustworthy or infallible, I find the market forces at work in the african art world to be very unusual and interesting.

                  Anyway, sorry for the ramble but I'm in a bit of a rush.  I'm curious if anyone has any thoughts to add to this discussion.  Thanks again.

                  Chris

                  --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "DC NYC" <davidcassera@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > Sorry Chris but I will have to agree with Ed on this one. Whether or not these are fakes made in Cameroon claiming to be DRC is not the question. It seems they were made in Congo but very recently.
                  >
                  > I see objects like this quite frequently at the Chelsea storage unit where the Mali traders and other Africans sell poor quality and often fake objects. The photos of these objects are spot on in comparison to the low quality pieces being offered at the storage. You can also find Hemba pieces such as this at the flea market on 25th street opposite the Antiques galleries where Mark Eglinton has his gallery.
                  >
                  > I have seen many of the same type of late Hemba and Tabwa pieces for sale by the trader named Camera outside the Whitney museum on 76th Street and Madison Ave.
                  >
                  > If I can offer some advice I would say leave these objects in Africa, we don't need more of these types of objects in a market already flooded with copies meant to deceive. Try looking at examples of Congo pieces in Museums and reputable galleries to get an idea of what great quality looks like.
                  >
                  > Dave Cassera
                  > New York City
                  > www.ancienttribal.com
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Ed Jones <bucit@> wrote:
                  > >
                  > >
                  > > ... By way of example, in my opinion, the jagged and scarred but shiny surface
                  > > on the top of the Tabwa stool suggests that it was used (like a cutting board)
                  > > for many years.  
                  > >
                  > > Chris,
                  > > Worn and "patinized" wood is not rough or worn in this way.  I think the photo
                  > > of the top of this stool is not consistent with that of a used one, but clearly
                  > > indicates a "made fro the market" piece, and is really rather an insult (in my
                  > > opinion) of aged and genunine tribal stool-tops made and used for sitting.  Take
                  > > a closer observation of the rest of the piece equally.  Considering it's purpose
                  > > and asthetic relevence, "would you accept or sit on something like this" ?? 
                  > > Genuine relics were certainly crafted with much more technical ability.  This
                  > > is crude and lacks any artisian value... That of a "fake" (and I hate to use
                  > > this word), or deceptive piece for the unassuming.
                  > >  
                  > > I do agree with you, in a sense, the upper surface it is much like a (cheap) and
                  > > well used "cutting board".
                  > >  
                  > > Ed  
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > > ________________________________
                  > > From: Chris <congabongoman@>
                  > > To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                  > > Sent: Thu, September 16, 2010 6:36:01 AM
                  > > Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Hemba fetishes, luba medicine cup and tabwa fetish
                  > > stool
                  > >
                  > >  
                  > > While I realize that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and don't expect folks
                  > > to share my aesthetic tastes, frankly I'm shocked and a bit puzzled that no one
                  > > appears to see the same features that I do in these pieces either stylistically
                  > > or with respect to patina. By way of example, in my opinion, the jagged and
                  > > scarred but shiny surface on the top of the Tabwa stool suggests that it was
                  > > used (like a cutting board) for many years. Like the patina on the roughly
                  > > carved body of the Hemba fetish, in my experience such patina on uneven and
                  > > non-smooth surfaces is very hard to fake without the piece looking "dipped" or
                  > > glazed in a very artificial way. Most commercially produced pieces, by contrast,
                  > > look almost polished or sanded and show no nicks, scratches or other surface
                  > > anomalies. Also, on the Hemba figure, I see old (dark) remnants of insect damage
                  > > and lots of grime around the feet---again, showing variation from the sshininess
                  > > of the top and suggesting that this piece has been around for a long time (and
                  > > not on a shelf). Again, the commercial pieces I see for sale don't have such
                  > > varied surfaces and tend to be evenly "dirty" or shiny throughout.
                  > >
                  > > Since it's tough making a comparison in a vaccuum, perhaps you or Lee could
                  > > identify a "commercial" piece or two (ie, provide a link or picture) that you
                  > > believe are comparable to assist in this discussion?
                  > >
                  > > Chris
                  > >
                  > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "rpearsonpe" <rpearsonpe@> wrote:
                  > > >
                  > > > I agree with Lee, the pieces appear to be 'made for the trade' and are worth
                  > > >whatever your buyer paid for them. That said, new pieces 'made for the trade'
                  > > >can be nice 'decorations', but not interesting to a collector.
                  > > >
                  > > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Lee Rubinstein <LeeRubinstein@> wrote:
                  > > > >
                  > > > > Chris:
                  > > > >
                  > > > > In all honesty, I don't see anything among the objects pictured that
                  > > > > transcends the quality of commercial offerings from various other
                  > > > > sources including that to which you refer as "all the junk on Ebay."
                  > > > > All of these pieces -- figures, posts, etc., seem to be on par with
                  > > > > the bulk of contemporary, commercially produced offerings --
                  > > > > competently carved but in no way compelling and displaying surfaces
                  > > > > and damages suggestive but not indicative of age and use. Cameroon
                  > > > > is but one locale which serves as home to skillful carvers, and I
                  > > > > imagine these pieces may have been carved in the Congo region but with
                  > > > > the same intent as in workshops elsewhere on the continent. If the
                  > > > > pieces move you, however, enjoy them and support the livelihoods of
                  > > > > the carvers and traders, but I would be careful not to conflate
                  > > > > aesthetic appreciation (which I must admit eludes me in these
                  > > > > instances) with a reading of age and/or authenticity. That's just my
                  > > > > take, and I hope this doesn't sound overly harsh. I am curious to
                  > > > > hear your observations on how you perceive that these pieces surpass
                  > > > > the many similar offerings on the market which are nearly identical in
                  > > > > form, detail and quality of carving and whether anyone agrees or
                  > > > > disagrees....
                  > > > >
                  > > > > Lee
                  > > > >
                  > > > >
                  > > > > On Sep 14, 2010, at 10:02 AM, Chris wrote:
                  > > > >
                  > > > > > I forgot to add that these [the Tabwa posts] are Tabwa Funkula.
                  > > > > >
                  > > > > > I've posted pics of some other exceptional DRC items that my friend
                  > > > > > will be bringing stateside next month:
                  > > > > > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/African_Arts/photos/album/560798420/pic/list
                  > > > > >
                  > > > > > These are all very old and great quality. They include:
                  > > > > >
                  > > > > > an excellent hemba ancestor fetish (this is about a foot tall--the
                  > > > > > patina and expressiveness of the face are exceptional on this piece);
                  > > > > >
                  > > > > > a Luba-Hemba janus figure--nice example (approx. 16 inches tall);
                  > > > > >
                  > > > > > an anthropomorthic Luba medicine cup (approx. 15 inches tall--
                  > > > > > slightly damaged but very old and nice); and
                  > > > > >
                  > > > > > a small Tabwa fetish stool/table (this is around 9 inches tall, also
                  > > > > > damaged).
                  > > > > >
                  > > > > > Anyway, with all the junk on Ebay being carved in Cameroon and
                  > > > > > claiming to be DRC pieces, I thought I'd post some pics of the real
                  > > > > > things, which are scarce and becoming increasingly so.
                  > > > > >
                  > > > > > Any thoughts or comments welcome.
                  > > > > >
                  > > > > > Chris
                  > > > > >
                  > > > > >
                  > > > > >
                  > > > >
                  > > >
                  > >
                  >




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                • Lee Rubinstein
                  Thanks, Gary, for highlighting this ironic twist which I too had observed and questioned. In addition to concerns regarding the quality and authenticity of
                  Message 8 of 20 , Sep 18, 2010
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                    Thanks, Gary, for highlighting this ironic twist which I too had observed and questioned.  In addition to concerns regarding the quality and authenticity of the illustrated pieces -- to the extent one could analyze from the limited photographic illustrations -- some of the dates seemed highly conjectural...  In addition to the problematic attribution to the Kissi of the "caryatid medicine bowl" (and its identification as such?) , the "Kongo equestrian power figure (... circa 1950)" , "Ibo spirit maiden headdress," "Fang ngil helmet (... circa 1920)", "Ngata sarcopahagus (... 56" high, circa 1930)", etc., all beckon further scrutiny, consideration and analysis with regard to authenticity, quality and date.  

                    Descriptive data, generally speaking, is a minefield strewn with misattributions, ambiguities and questionable and unspecified sources.  As is true of any research -- and the descriptive elements attached to any object are essentially suggestive of an underlying body of research (ideally understood as in progress) -- citations and sources of information are important elements which effect the strength and veracity of the statements offered.  Unfortunately, the notes which identify an object -- particularly in many on-line presentations as well as in casual articles and brief catalogues, for example  -- frequently imply the hidden presence of this underlying verification.  The fact remains that the processes of attribution, authentication and verification are inevitably arduous -- complicated by erroneous conclusions and charged agendas.  Perhaps the most daunting factor in initiating these processes is the usual absence of complete object histories which are subsequently supplanted by insertion of elements from the proliferating plethora of questionable examples for comparison;  the inaccessibility of facts (i.e., the lack of a unique object biography)  for a specific object often prompts reliance upon vague plausibilities built amid the miasma of conflicting and variously informed opinions. 

                    Illuminating and insisting upon the complexity of due diligence (the application of scientific method) while also maintaining the pleasure and passion of discovery as well as aesthetic enjoyment -- is a primary challenge in this endeavor.  How do we extend the phase of generating and revising hypotheses and suspend the drawing of conclusions so that the inquiry yields a closer reading of truth that includes possibilities that were not recognized or considered at the onset of the inquiry?  How do we describe objects through the process? How do we maintain an openness to other possible identities and source contexts bearing little resemblance to those originally perceived/conceived?

                    ???
                     
                    On Sep 18, 2010, at 1:02 PM, GARYGLS2000@... wrote:


                    The article on authenticity in African art is, ironically, illustrated by a number of highly questionable pieces.
                     
                    In a message dated 9/18/2010 3:11:45 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time, bucit@... writes:
                     

                    Lisa,
                     
                    No one would legitimately debate the logic and principle of what you expressed (certainly me).  However, the conflict and confusion arises when someone believes (by deception, changing artistic expression or otherwise) that carved pieces taken in a "creative and new direction" are passed off as traditional and older relics.
                     
                    Supporting fresh and "evolving" traditional forms is one thing... Assuming and presenting them to be old traditional
                    carvings are something entirely different.  And the beat goes on...  
                     
                    Ed
                     
                     



                    From: Ann Polly <pollyanna2424@...>
                    To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                    Sent: Fri, September 17, 2010 2:48:07 PM
                    Subject: Re: [African_Arts] Re: Hemba fetishes, luba medicine cup and tabwa fetish stool

                     


                    Hello,
                     
                    Just had to add my two cents on this interesting thread.
                     
                    Firstly, I would like to share this interesting article on the issue of authenticity of African art:  http://www.maineantiquedigest.com/stories/?id=1823 .  
                     
                    I frequent a local African art store and had the pleasure to engage the owner in some frank discussions on authenticity.  She explained that she was once able to collect many tribally used pieces, but since the surge in popularity of African art, has found it exceedingly difficult. She said that many of these tribes realize the value in their tribal pieces, not purely from a monetary standpoint, but in terms of their cultural heritage.  She has watched many ceremonies and watched swarms of "vultures" beg to buy the masks once it ended.  According to her, many of the tribes people now refuse to sell their pieces and instead, direct her to their local carvers.  She has encountered more frequently on her excursions what she calls "Western backlash" - a general belief that people from the West are only interested in stealing their sacred and valueable possessions.  
                     
                    Most of us would love to own a tribally used piece, but I think that authenticity also means supporting local carvers and artists.  People shouldn't be turned off because a piece is not tribally used.  How many people would willingly sell their family's tombstone...yet would want authentic African funerary figures. By purchasing recently created  pieces,  you not only acquire a beautiful piece of African art, but you also support local carvers and in doing so keep the tradition and skills alive. I'm also an artist and know all too well that often times artist have to chose between the pursuit of their art & living a modest life style, or finding more stable means of employment & putting art aside.  In Africa, I imagine the choice to become a carver is not an easy one.  She also explained to me that local artists do make pieces of lesser quality, as these sell at a cheaper price and thus are more likely to be purchased.  More intricate pieces, take more time.  But if the demand for better quality pieces would grow, a supply of these will surely follow.  
                     
                    Another point she made was concerning the carvers artistic interpretation of a traditional piece.  As an artist, I should be more sensitive to that desire to add one's own stamp to a piece. But I admit that I'm conflicted because I secretly yearn to own that African antique and having one that is a significant departure from the examples in museums, well...breaks the illusion. It is an interesting dilemna, there is a high demand for traditional pieces, but many carvers want to be creative and take these traditional pieces into a new direction or fresh interpretation. Unfortunately, these pieces don't sell, and many  carvers are essentially stifled.  The store owner bought some of these pieces, and they are still on her shelves.  Right now there is a lovely male Chi wara on her self because it horns are different.
                     
                    My apologies for rambling on....I'm usually lurking in the shadows, quietly reading the emails...must be a full moon!
                     
                    Lisa



                    From: Chris <congabongoman@...>
                    To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                    Sent: Fri, September 17, 2010 11:06:10 AM
                    Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Hemba fetishes, luba medicine cup and tabwa fetish stool

                    Thanks for all the input.  I have seen many congolese pieces in many museums and wouldn't expect more recent pieces to necessarily be of the same style or quality as those found in museums.  Regardless of the authenticity (or not) of these pieces, I think it's interesting how many collectors and dealers seem to blur the lines between more recent congolese pieces, which may have been used ritually, and fakes made elsewhere, which are just fakes in the authenticity spectrum (ie, made to deceive).

                    I'm curious as to the general consensus of opinion on this issue.  Is it: 1. that there is no ritual use going on anymore; 2. that the culture of the peoples using them is no longer pristine, so the use doesn't really count; or perhaps 3. the ritually used pieces are so few now that they can't really be distinguished from non-used pieces, so all should be discounted?  Personally, I think that 3 is the only justifiable position.  I'm curious what others think.

                    Given that, even with a more-contemporary and used piece, a carver may make extra copies of the same piece for sale, so there may not be any real difference between one and the other from an artistic standpoint but a significant difference in their market value.  When it comes to this aspect of ritual use, I think it's interesting to what degree trust and "provenence" comes into play in determining value. I've heard that many pieces that are collected in the Congo today often end up sold with a manufactured provenence "from an old Belgian collection" or something similar before going into the market.  Similarly, many pieces once in museum collections may be sold off later due to lack of established provenence or documented authenticity.

                    I'll note that in reading the book on the african pieces from the Barnes collection, even in the 1930s it was said that there is no more real african art of any value remaining in Africa.  Behind this belief, I think, is the misperception that the colonial powers "took all the good stuff" and that whatever remained or was subsequently made by the surviving peoples is of no value. 

                    On the flipside, from a purely aesthetic standpoint, I've also seen more contemporary pieces that I personally find more interesting artisticly than some older 19th C pieces.  

                    Given that aesthetics are inherently subjective, and, except in the cases of very clear documentation, the provenence on many pieces may ultimately be similarly based on trust or subjective opinions, which are not always trustworthy or infallible, I find the market forces at work in the african art world to be very unusual and interesting. 

                    Anyway, sorry for the ramble but I'm in a bit of a rush.  I'm curious if anyone has any thoughts to add to this discussion.  Thanks again.

                    Chris 

                    --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "DC NYC" <davidcassera@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > Sorry Chris but I will have to agree with Ed on this one. Whether or not these are fakes made in Cameroon claiming to be DRC is not the question. It seems they were made in Congo but very recently.
                    > 
                    > I see objects like this quite frequently at the Chelsea storage unit where the Mali traders and other Africans sell poor quality and often fake objects. The photos of these objects are spot on in comparison to the low quality pieces being offered at the storage. You can also find Hemba pieces such as this at the flea market on 25th street opposite the Antiques galleries where Mark Eglinton has his gallery. 
                    > 
                    > I have seen many of the same type of late Hemba and Tabwa pieces for sale by the trader named Camera outside the Whitney museum on 76th Street and Madison Ave. 
                    > 
                    > If I can offer some advice I would say leave these objects in Africa, we don't need more of these types of objects in a market already flooded with copies meant to deceive. Try looking at examples of Congo pieces in Museums and reputable galleries to get an idea of what great quality looks like.
                    > 
                    > Dave Cassera
                    > New York City
                    > www.ancienttribal.com
                    > 
                    > 
                    > 
                    > 
                    > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Ed Jones <bucit@> wrote:
                    > >
                    > > 
                    > > ... By way of example, in my opinion, the jagged and scarred but shiny surface 
                    > > on the top of the Tabwa stool suggests that it was used (like a cutting board) 
                    > > for many years.  
                    > > 
                    > > Chris, 
                    > > Worn and "patinized" wood is not rough or worn in this way.  I think the photo 
                    > > of the top of this stool is not consistent with that of a used one, but clearly 
                    > > indicates a "made fro the market" piece, and is really rather an insult (in my 
                    > > opinion) of aged and genunine tribal stool-tops made and used for sitting.  Take 
                    > > a closer observation of the rest of the piece equally.  Considering it's purpose 
                    > > and asthetic relevence, "would you accept or sit on something like this" ??  
                    > > Genuine relics were certainly crafted with much more technical ability.  This 
                    > > is crude and lacks any artisian value... That of a "fake" (and I hate to use 
                    > > this word), or deceptive piece for the unassuming.
                    > >  
                    > > I do agree with you, in a sense, the upper surface it is much like a (cheap) and 
                    > > well used "cutting board".
                    > >  
                    > > Ed   
                    > > 
                    > > 
                    > > 
                    > > 
                    > > ________________________________
                    > > From: Chris <congabongoman@>
                    > > To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                    > > Sent: Thu, September 16, 2010 6:36:01 AM
                    > > Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Hemba fetishes, luba medicine cup and tabwa fetish 
                    > > stool
                    > > 
                    > >   
                    > > While I realize that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and don't expect folks 
                    > > to share my aesthetic tastes, frankly I'm shocked and a bit puzzled that no one 
                    > > appears to see the same features that I do in these pieces either stylistically 
                    > > or with respect to patina. By way of example, in my opinion, the jagged and 
                    > > scarred but shiny surface on the top of the Tabwa stool suggests that it was 
                    > > used (like a cutting board) for many years. Like the patina on the roughly 
                    > > carved body of the Hemba fetish, in my experience such patina on uneven and 
                    > > non-smooth surfaces is very hard to fake without the piece looking "dipped" or 
                    > > glazed in a very artificial way. Most commercially produced pieces, by contrast, 
                    > > look almost polished or sanded and show no nicks, scratches or other surface 
                    > > anomalies. Also, on the Hemba figure, I see old (dark) remnants of insect damage 
                    > > and lots of grime around the feet---again, showing variation from the sshininess 
                    > > of the top and suggesting that this piece has been around for a long time (and 
                    > > not on a shelf). Again, the commercial pieces I see for sale don't have such 
                    > > varied surfaces and tend to be evenly "dirty" or shiny throughout.
                    > > 
                    > > Since it's tough making a comparison in a vaccuum, perhaps you or Lee could 
                    > > identify a "commercial" piece or two (ie, provide a link or picture) that you 
                    > > believe are comparable to assist in this discussion?
                    > > 
                    > > Chris
                    > > 
                    > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "rpearsonpe" <rpearsonpe@> wrote:
                    > > >
                    > > > I agree with Lee, the pieces appear to be 'made for the trade' and are worth 
                    > > >whatever your buyer paid for them. That said, new pieces 'made for the trade' 
                    > > >can be nice 'decorations', but not interesting to a collector.
                    > > > 
                    > > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Lee Rubinstein <LeeRubinstein@> wrote:
                    > > > >
                    > > > > Chris:
                    > > > > 
                    > > > > In all honesty, I don't see anything among the objects pictured that 
                    > > > > transcends the quality of commercial offerings from various other 
                    > > > > sources including that to which you refer as "all the junk on Ebay." 
                    > > > > All of these pieces -- figures, posts, etc., seem to be on par with 
                    > > > > the bulk of contemporary, commercially produced offerings -- 
                    > > > > competently carved but in no way compelling and displaying surfaces 
                    > > > > and damages suggestive but not indicative of age and use. Cameroon 
                    > > > > is but one locale which serves as home to skillful carvers, and I 
                    > > > > imagine these pieces may have been carved in the Congo region but with 
                    > > > > the same intent as in workshops elsewhere on the continent. If the 
                    > > > > pieces move you, however, enjoy them and support the livelihoods of 
                    > > > > the carvers and traders, but I would be careful not to conflate 
                    > > > > aesthetic appreciation (which I must admit eludes me in these 
                    > > > > instances) with a reading of age and/or authenticity. That's just my 
                    > > > > take, and I hope this doesn't sound overly harsh. I am curious to 
                    > > > > hear your observations on how you perceive that these pieces surpass 
                    > > > > the many similar offerings on the market which are nearly identical in 
                    > > > > form, detail and quality of carving and whether anyone agrees or 
                    > > > > disagrees....
                    > > > > 
                    > > > > Lee
                    > > > > 
                    > > > > 
                    > > > > On Sep 14, 2010, at 10:02 AM, Chris wrote:
                    > > > > 
                    > > > > > I forgot to add that these [the Tabwa posts] are Tabwa Funkula.
                    > > > > >
                    > > > > > I've posted pics of some other exceptional DRC items that my friend 
                    > > > > > will be bringing stateside next month:
                    > > > > > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/African_Arts/photos/album/560798420/pic/list
                    > > > > >
                    > > > > > These are all very old and great quality. They include:
                    > > > > >
                    > > > > > an excellent hemba ancestor fetish (this is about a foot tall--the 
                    > > > > > patina and expressiveness of the face are exceptional on this piece);
                    > > > > >
                    > > > > > a Luba-Hemba janus figure--nice example (approx. 16 inches tall);
                    > > > > >
                    > > > > > an anthropomorthic Luba medicine cup (approx. 15 inches tall-- 
                    > > > > > slightly damaged but very old and nice); and
                    > > > > >
                    > > > > > a small Tabwa fetish stool/table (this is around 9 inches tall, also 
                    > > > > > damaged).
                    > > > > >
                    > > > > > Anyway, with all the junk on Ebay being carved in Cameroon and 
                    > > > > > claiming to be DRC pieces, I thought I'd post some pics of the real 
                    > > > > > things, which are scarce and becoming increasingly so.
                    > > > > >
                    > > > > > Any thoughts or comments welcome.
                    > > > > >
                    > > > > > Chris
                    > > > > >
                    > > > > >
                    > > > > >
                    > > > >
                    > > >
                    > >
                    >




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                  • Ann Polly
                    Ed, I absolutely agree...just peruse EBay to see all the early 20th century, authentic artifacts for sale.  Unfortunately, deception seems to endemic when
                    Message 9 of 20 , Sep 18, 2010
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                      Ed,
                       
                      I absolutely agree...just peruse EBay to see all the early 20th century, authentic artifacts for sale.  Unfortunately, deception seems to endemic when it comes to the sale of African art.
                       
                      Lisa


                      From: Ed Jones <bucit@...>
                      To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                      Sent: Fri, September 17, 2010 11:25:34 PM
                      Subject: Re: [African_Arts] Re: Hemba fetishes, luba medicine cup and tabwa fetish stool



                      Lisa,
                       
                      No one would legitimately debate the logic and principle of what you expressed (certainly me).  However, the conflict and confusion arises when someone believes (by deception, changing artistic expression or otherwise) that carved pieces taken in a "creative and new direction" are passed off as traditional and older relics.
                       
                      Supporting fresh and "evolving" traditional forms is one thing... Assuming and presenting them to be old traditional
                      carvings are something entirely different.  And the beat goes on...  
                       
                      Ed

                       

                       


                      From: Ann Polly <pollyanna2424@...>
                      To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                      Sent: Fri, September 17, 2010 2:48:07 PM
                      Subject: Re: [African_Arts] Re: Hemba fetishes, luba medicine cup and tabwa fetish stool

                       

                      Hello,
                       
                      Just had to add my two cents on this interesting thread.
                       
                      Firstly, I would like to share this interesting article on the issue of authenticity of African art:  http://www.maineantiquedigest.com/stories/?id=1823 .  
                       
                      I frequent a local African art store and had the pleasure to engage the owner in some frank discussions on authenticity.  She explained that she was once able to collect many tribally used pieces, but since the surge in popularity of African art, has found it exceedingly difficult. She said that many of these tribes realize the value in their tribal pieces, not purely from a monetary standpoint, but in terms of their cultural heritage.  She has watched many ceremonies and watched swarms of "vultures" beg to buy the masks once it ended.  According to her, many of the tribes people now refuse to sell their pieces and instead, direct her to their local carvers.  She has encountered more frequently on her excursions what she calls "Western backlash" - a general belief that people from the West are only interested in stealing their sacred and valueable possessions.  
                       
                      Most of us would love to own a tribally used piece, but I think that authenticity also means supporting local carvers and artists.  People shouldn't be turned off because a piece is not tribally used.  How many people would willingly sell their family's tombstone...yet would want authentic African funerary figures. By purchasing recently created  pieces,  you not only acquire a beautiful piece of African art, but you also support local carvers and in doing so keep the tradition and skills alive. I'm also an artist and know all too well that often times artist have to chose between the pursuit of their art & living a modest life style, or finding more stable means of employment & putting art aside.  In Africa, I imagine the choice to become a carver is not an easy one.  She also explained to me that local artists do make pieces of lesser quality, as these sell at a cheaper price and thus are more likely to be purchased.  More intricate pieces, take more time.  But if the demand for better quality pieces would grow, a supply of these will surely follow.  
                       
                      Another point she made was concerning the carvers artistic interpretation of a traditional piece.  As an artist, I should be more sensitive to that desire to add one's own stamp to a piece. But I admit that I'm conflicted because I secretly yearn to own that African antique and having one that is a significant departure from the examples in museums, well...breaks the illusion. It is an interesting dilemna, there is a high demand for traditional pieces, but many carvers want to be creative and take these traditional pieces into a new direction or fresh interpretation. Unfortunately, these pieces don't sell, and many  carvers are essentially stifled.  The store owner bought some of these pieces, and they are still on her shelves.  Right now there is a lovely male Chi wara on her self because it horns are different.
                       
                      My apologies for rambling on....I'm usually lurking in the shadows, quietly reading the emails...must be a full moon!
                       
                      Lisa



                      From: Chris <congabongoman@...>
                      To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                      Sent: Fri, September 17, 2010 11:06:10 AM
                      Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Hemba fetishes, luba medicine cup and tabwa fetish stool

                      Thanks for all the input.  I have seen many congolese pieces in many museums and wouldn't expect more recent pieces to necessarily be of the same style or quality as those found in museums.  Regardless of the authenticity (or not) of these pieces, I think it's interesting how many collectors and dealers seem to blur the lines between more recent congolese pieces, which may have been used ritually, and fakes made elsewhere, which are just fakes in the authenticity spectrum (ie, made to deceive).

                      I'm curious as to the general consensus of opinion on this issue.  Is it: 1. that there is no ritual use going on anymore; 2. that the culture of the peoples using them is no longer pristine, so the use doesn't really count; or perhaps 3. the ritually used pieces are so few now that they can't really be distinguished from non-used pieces, so all should be discounted?  Personally, I think that 3 is the only justifiable position.  I'm curious what others think.

                      Given that, even with a more-contemporary and used piece, a carver may make extra copies of the same piece for sale, so there may not be any real difference between one and the other from an artistic standpoint but a significant difference in their market value.  When it comes to this aspect of ritual use, I think it's interesting to what degree trust and "provenence" comes into play in determining value. I've heard that many pieces that are collected in the Congo today often end up sold with a manufactured provenence "from an old Belgian collection" or something similar before going into the market.  Similarly, many pieces once in museum collections may be sold off later due to lack of established provenence or documented authenticity.

                      I'll note that in reading the book on the african pieces from the Barnes collection, even in the 1930s it was said that there is no more real african art of any value remaining in Africa.  Behind this belief, I think, is the misperception that the colonial powers "took all the good stuff" and that whatever remained or was subsequently made by the surviving peoples is of no value.

                      On the flipside, from a purely aesthetic standpoint, I've also seen more contemporary pieces that I personally find more interesting artisticly than some older 19th C pieces. 

                      Given that aesthetics are inherently subjective, and, except in the cases of very clear documentation, the provenence on many pieces may ultimately be similarly based on trust or subjective opinions, which are not always trustworthy or infallible, I find the market forces at work in the african art world to be very unusual and interesting.

                      Anyway, sorry for the ramble but I'm in a bit of a rush.  I'm curious if anyone has any thoughts to add to this discussion.  Thanks again.

                      Chris

                      --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "DC NYC" <davidcassera@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > Sorry Chris but I will have to agree with Ed on this one. Whether or not these are fakes made in Cameroon claiming to be DRC is not the question. It seems they were made in Congo but very recently.
                      >
                      > I see objects like this quite frequently at the Chelsea storage unit where the Mali traders and other Africans sell poor quality and often fake objects. The photos of these objects are spot on in comparison to the low quality pieces being offered at the storage. You can also find Hemba pieces such as this at the flea market on 25th street opposite the Antiques galleries where Mark Eglinton has his gallery.
                      >
                      > I have seen many of the same type of late Hemba and Tabwa pieces for sale by the trader named Camera outside the Whitney museum on 76th Street and Madison Ave.
                      >
                      > If I can offer some advice I would say leave these objects in Africa, we don't need more of these types of objects in a market already flooded with copies meant to deceive. Try looking at examples of Congo pieces in Museums and reputable galleries to get an idea of what great quality looks like.
                      >
                      > Dave Cassera
                      > New York City
                      > www.ancienttribal.com
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Ed Jones <bucit@> wrote:
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > ... By way of example, in my opinion, the jagged and scarred but shiny surface
                      > > on the top of the Tabwa stool suggests that it was used (like a cutting board)
                      > > for many years.  
                      > >
                      > > Chris,
                      > > Worn and "patinized" wood is not rough or worn in this way.  I think the photo
                      > > of the top of this stool is not consistent with that of a used one, but clearly
                      > > indicates a "made fro the market" piece, and is really rather an insult (in my
                      > > opinion) of aged and genunine tribal stool-tops made and used for sitting.  Take
                      > > a closer observation of the rest of the piece equally.  Considering it's purpose
                      > > and asthetic relevence, "would you accept or sit on something like this" ?? 
                      > > Genuine relics were certainly crafted with much more technical ability.  This
                      > > is crude and lacks any artisian value... That of a "fake" (and I hate to use
                      > > this word), or deceptive piece for the unassuming.
                      > >  
                      > > I do agree with you, in a sense, the upper surface it is much like a (cheap) and
                      > > well used "cutting board".
                      > >  
                      > > Ed  
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > ________________________________
                      > > From: Chris <congabongoman@>
                      > > To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                      > > Sent: Thu, September 16, 2010 6:36:01 AM
                      > > Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Hemba fetishes, luba medicine cup and tabwa fetish
                      > > stool
                      > >
                      > >  
                      > > While I realize that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and don't expect folks
                      > > to share my aesthetic tastes, frankly I'm shocked and a bit puzzled that no one
                      > > appears to see the same features that I do in these pieces either stylistically
                      > > or with respect to patina. By way of example, in my opinion, the jagged and
                      > > scarred but shiny surface on the top of the Tabwa stool suggests that it was
                      > > used (like a cutting board) for many years. Like the patina on the roughly
                      > > carved body of the Hemba fetish, in my experience such patina on uneven and
                      > > non-smooth surfaces is very hard to fake without the piece looking "dipped" or
                      > > glazed in a very artificial way. Most commercially produced pieces, by contrast,
                      > > look almost polished or sanded and show no nicks, scratches or other surface
                      > > anomalies. Also, on the Hemba figure, I see old (dark) remnants of insect damage
                      > > and lots of grime around the feet---again, showing variation from the sshininess
                      > > of the top and suggesting that this piece has been around for a long time (and
                      > > not on a shelf). Again, the commercial pieces I see for sale don't have such
                      > > varied surfaces and tend to be evenly "dirty" or shiny throughout.
                      > >
                      > > Since it's tough making a comparison in a vaccuum, perhaps you or Lee could
                      > > identify a "commercial" piece or two (ie, provide a link or picture) that you
                      > > believe are comparable to assist in this discussion?
                      > >
                      > > Chris
                      > >
                      > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "rpearsonpe" <rpearsonpe@> wrote:
                      > > >
                      > > > I agree with Lee, the pieces appear to be 'made for the trade' and are worth
                      > > >whatever your buyer paid for them. That said, new pieces 'made for the trade'
                      > > >can be nice 'decorations', but not interesting to a collector.
                      > > >
                      > > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Lee Rubinstein <LeeRubinstein@> wrote:
                      > > > >
                      > > > > Chris:
                      > > > >
                      > > > > In all honesty, I don't see anything among the objects pictured that
                      > > > > transcends the quality of commercial offerings from various other
                      > > > > sources including that to which you refer as "all the junk on Ebay."
                      > > > > All of these pieces -- figures, posts, etc., seem to be on par with
                      > > > > the bulk of contemporary, commercially produced offerings --
                      > > > > competently carved but in no way compelling and displaying surfaces
                      > > > > and damages suggestive but not indicative of age and use. Cameroon
                      > > > > is but one locale which serves as home to skillful carvers, and I
                      > > > > imagine these pieces may have been carved in the Congo region but with
                      > > > > the same intent as in workshops elsewhere on the continent. If the
                      > > > > pieces move you, however, enjoy them and support the livelihoods of
                      > > > > the carvers and traders, but I would be careful not to conflate
                      > > > > aesthetic appreciation (which I must admit eludes me in these
                      > > > > instances) with a reading of age and/or authenticity. That's just my
                      > > > > take, and I hope this doesn't sound overly harsh. I am curious to
                      > > > > hear your observations on how you perceive that these pieces surpass
                      > > > > the many similar offerings on the market which are nearly identical in
                      > > > > form, detail and quality of carving and whether anyone agrees or
                      > > > > disagrees....
                      > > > >
                      > > > > Lee
                      > > > >
                      > > > >
                      > > > > On Sep 14, 2010, at 10:02 AM, Chris wrote:
                      > > > >
                      > > > > > I forgot to add that these [the Tabwa posts] are Tabwa Funkula.
                      > > > > >
                      > > > > > I've posted pics of some other exceptional DRC items that my friend
                      > > > > > will be bringing stateside next month:
                      > > > > > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/African_Arts/photos/album/560798420/pic/list
                      > > > > >
                      > > > > > These are all very old and great quality. They include:
                      > > > > >
                      > > > > > an excellent hemba ancestor fetish (this is about a foot tall--the
                      > > > > > patina and expressiveness of the face are exceptional on this piece);
                      > > > > >
                      > > > > > a Luba-Hemba janus figure--nice example (approx. 16 inches tall);
                      > > > > >
                      > > > > > an anthropomorthic Luba medicine cup (approx. 15 inches tall--
                      > > > > > slightly damaged but very old and nice); and
                      > > > > >
                      > > > > > a small Tabwa fetish stool/table (this is around 9 inches tall, also
                      > > > > > damaged).
                      > > > > >
                      > > > > > Anyway, with all the junk on Ebay being carved in Cameroon and
                      > > > > > claiming to be DRC pieces, I thought I'd post some pics of the real
                      > > > > > things, which are scarce and becoming increasingly so.
                      > > > > >
                      > > > > > Any thoughts or comments welcome.
                      > > > > >
                      > > > > > Chris
                      > > > > >
                      > > > > >
                      > > > > >
                      > > > >
                      > > >
                      > >
                      >




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                    • Ann Polly
                      Without a doubt, some of the pieces are questionable. However, on the subject of quality, I d be very interested to know what people think of the objects in
                      Message 10 of 20 , Sep 18, 2010
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                        Without a doubt, some of the pieces are questionable. However, on the subject of quality, I'd be very interested to know what people think of the objects in the book African Sculpture by Ladislas Segy.  If the book weren't copyrighted in 1958, I would swear a lot of the pieces were cheap reproductions.  Especially in light of the article on authenticity by Henri Kamer - http://www.randafricanart.com/Authenticity_of_African_Sculptures_Henri_Kamer.html .
                        Some of the pieces seem to lacking that finesse when compared to those objects in Jean-Baptiste Bacquart's Tribal Arts of Africa.
                         
                        Lisa
                         

                        From: Lee Rubinstein <LeeRubinstein@...>
                        To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                        Sent: Sat, September 18, 2010 11:03:29 AM
                        Subject: Re: [African_Arts] Re: Hemba fetishes, luba medicine cup and tabwa fetish stool



                        Thanks, Gary, for highlighting this ironic twist which I too had observed and questioned.  In addition to concerns regarding the quality and authenticity of the illustrated pieces -- to the extent one could analyze from the limited photographic illustrations -- some of the dates seemed highly conjectural...  In addition to the problematic attribution to the Kissi of the "caryatid medicine bowl" (and its identification as such?) , the "Kongo equestrian power figure (... circa 1950)" , "Ibo spirit maiden headdress," "Fang ngil helmet (... circa 1920)", "Ngata sarcopahagus (... 56" high, circa 1930)", etc., all beckon further scrutiny, consideration and analysis with regard to authenticity, quality and date.  

                        Descriptive data, generally speaking, is a minefield strewn with misattributions, ambiguities and questionable and unspecified sources.  As is true of any research -- and the descriptive elements attached to any object are essentially suggestive of an underlying body of research (ideally understood as in progress) -- citations and sources of information are important elements which effect the strength and veracity of the statements offered.  Unfortunately, the notes which identify an object -- particularly in many on-line presentations as well as in casual articles and brief catalogues, for example  -- frequently imply the hidden presence of this underlying verification.  The fact remains that the processes of attribution, authentication and verification are inevitably arduous -- complicated by erroneous conclusions and charged agendas.  Perhaps the most daunting factor in initiating these processes is the usual absence of complete object histories which are subsequently supplanted by insertion of elements from the proliferating plethora of questionable examples for comparison;  the inaccessibility of facts (i.e., the lack of a unique object biography)  for a specific object often prompts reliance upon vague plausibilities built amid the miasma of conflicting and variously informed opinions. 

                        Illuminating and insisting upon the complexity of due diligence (the application of scientific method) while also maintaining the pleasure and passion of discovery as well as aesthetic enjoyment -- is a primary challenge in this endeavor.  How do we extend the phase of generating and revising hypotheses and suspend the drawing of conclusions so that the inquiry yields a closer reading of truth that includes possibilities that were not recognized or considered at the onset of the inquiry?  How do we describe objects through the process? How do we maintain an openness to other possible identities and source contexts bearing little resemblance to those originally perceived/conceived?

                        ???
                         
                        On Sep 18, 2010, at 1:02 PM, GARYGLS2000@... wrote:


                        The article on authenticity in African art is, ironically, illustrated by a number of highly questionable pieces.
                         
                        In a message dated 9/18/2010 3:11:45 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time, bucit@... writes:
                         

                        Lisa,
                         
                        No one would legitimately debate the logic and principle of what you expressed (certainly me).  However, the conflict and confusion arises when someone believes (by deception, changing artistic expression or otherwise) that carved pieces taken in a "creative and new direction" are passed off as traditional and older relics.
                         
                        Supporting fresh and "evolving" traditional forms is one thing... Assuming and presenting them to be old traditional
                        carvings are something entirely different.  And the beat goes on...  
                         
                        Ed
                         
                         



                        From: Ann Polly <pollyanna2424@...>
                        To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                        Sent: Fri, September 17, 2010 2:48:07 PM
                        Subject: Re: [African_Arts] Re: Hemba fetishes, luba medicine cup and tabwa fetish stool

                         


                        Hello,
                         
                        Just had to add my two cents on this interesting thread.
                         
                        Firstly, I would like to share this interesting article on the issue of authenticity of African art:  http://www.maineantiquedigest.com/stories/?id=1823 .  
                         
                        I frequent a local African art store and had the pleasure to engage the owner in some frank discussions on authenticity.  She explained that she was once able to collect many tribally used pieces, but since the surge in popularity of African art, has found it exceedingly difficult. She said that many of these tribes realize the value in their tribal pieces, not purely from a monetary standpoint, but in terms of their cultural heritage.  She has watched many ceremonies and watched swarms of "vultures" beg to buy the masks once it ended.  According to her, many of the tribes people now refuse to sell their pieces and instead, direct her to their local carvers.  She has encountered more frequently on her excursions what she calls "Western backlash" - a general belief that people from the West are only interested in stealing their sacred and valueable possessions.  
                         
                        Most of us would love to own a tribally used piece, but I think that authenticity also means supporting local carvers and artists.  People shouldn't be turned off because a piece is not tribally used.  How many people would willingly sell their family's tombstone...yet would want authentic African funerary figures. By purchasing recently created  pieces,  you not only acquire a beautiful piece of African art, but you also support local carvers and in doing so keep the tradition and skills alive. I'm also an artist and know all too well that often times artist have to chose between the pursuit of their art & living a modest life style, or finding more stable means of employment & putting art aside.  In Africa, I imagine the choice to become a carver is not an easy one.  She also explained to me that local artists do make pieces of lesser quality, as these sell at a cheaper price and thus are more likely to be purchased.  More intricate pieces, take more time.  But if the demand for better quality pieces would grow, a supply of these will surely follow.  
                         
                        Another point she made was concerning the carvers artistic interpretation of a traditional piece.  As an artist, I should be more sensitive to that desire to add one's own stamp to a piece. But I admit that I'm conflicted because I secretly yearn to own that African antique and having one that is a significant departure from the examples in museums, well...breaks the illusion. It is an interesting dilemna, there is a high demand for traditional pieces, but many carvers want to be creative and take these traditional pieces into a new direction or fresh interpretation. Unfortunately, these pieces don't sell, and many  carvers are essentially stifled.  The store owner bought some of these pieces, and they are still on her shelves.  Right now there is a lovely male Chi wara on her self because it horns are different.
                         
                        My apologies for rambling on....I'm usually lurking in the shadows, quietly reading the emails...must be a full moon!
                         
                        Lisa



                        From: Chris <congabongoman@...>
                        To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                        Sent: Fri, September 17, 2010 11:06:10 AM
                        Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Hemba fetishes, luba medicine cup and tabwa fetish stool

                        Thanks for all the input.  I have seen many congolese pieces in many museums and wouldn't expect more recent pieces to necessarily be of the same style or quality as those found in museums.  Regardless of the authenticity (or not) of these pieces, I think it's interesting how many collectors and dealers seem to blur the lines between more recent congolese pieces, which may have been used ritually, and fakes made elsewhere, which are just fakes in the authenticity spectrum (ie, made to deceive).

                        I'm curious as to the general consensus of opinion on this issue.  Is it: 1. that there is no ritual use going on anymore; 2. that the culture of the peoples using them is no longer pristine, so the use doesn't really count; or perhaps 3. the ritually used pieces are so few now that they can't really be distinguished from non-used pieces, so all should be discounted?  Personally, I think that 3 is the only justifiable position.  I'm curious what others think.

                        Given that, even with a more-contemporary and used piece, a carver may make extra copies of the same piece for sale, so there may not be any real difference between one and the other from an artistic standpoint but a significant difference in their market value.  When it comes to this aspect of ritual use, I think it's interesting to what degree trust and "provenence" comes into play in determining value. I've heard that many pieces that are collected in the Congo today often end up sold with a manufactured provenence "from an old Belgian collection" or something similar before going into the market.  Similarly, many pieces once in museum collections may be sold off later due to lack of established provenence or documented authenticity.

                        I'll note that in reading the book on the african pieces from the Barnes collection, even in the 1930s it was said that there is no more real african art of any value remaining in Africa.  Behind this belief, I think, is the misperception that the colonial powers "took all the good stuff" and that whatever remained or was subsequently made by the surviving peoples is of no value. 

                        On the flipside, from a purely aesthetic standpoint, I've also seen more contemporary pieces that I personally find more interesting artisticly than some older 19th C pieces.  

                        Given that aesthetics are inherently subjective, and, except in the cases of very clear documentation, the provenence on many pieces may ultimately be similarly based on trust or subjective opinions, which are not always trustworthy or infallible, I find the market forces at work in the african art world to be very unusual and interesting. 

                        Anyway, sorry for the ramble but I'm in a bit of a rush.  I'm curious if anyone has any thoughts to add to this discussion.  Thanks again.

                        Chris 

                        --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "DC NYC" <davidcassera@...> wrote:
                        >
                        > Sorry Chris but I will have to agree with Ed on this one. Whether or not these are fakes made in Cameroon claiming to be DRC is not the question. It seems they were made in Congo but very recently.
                        > 
                        > I see objects like this quite frequently at the Chelsea storage unit where the Mali traders and other Africans sell poor quality and often fake objects. The photos of these objects are spot on in comparison to the low quality pieces being offered at the storage. You can also find Hemba pieces such as this at the flea market on 25th street opposite the Antiques galleries where Mark Eglinton has his gallery. 
                        > 
                        > I have seen many of the same type of late Hemba and Tabwa pieces for sale by the trader named Camera outside the Whitney museum on 76th Street and Madison Ave. 
                        > 
                        > If I can offer some advice I would say leave these objects in Africa, we don't need more of these types of objects in a market already flooded with copies meant to deceive. Try looking at examples of Congo pieces in Museums and reputable galleries to get an idea of what great quality looks like.
                        > 
                        > Dave Cassera
                        > New York City
                        > www.ancienttribal.com
                        > 
                        > 
                        > 
                        > 
                        > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Ed Jones <bucit@> wrote:
                        > >
                        > > 
                        > > ... By way of example, in my opinion, the jagged and scarred but shiny surface 
                        > > on the top of the Tabwa stool suggests that it was used (like a cutting board) 
                        > > for many years.  
                        > > 
                        > > Chris, 
                        > > Worn and "patinized" wood is not rough or worn in this way.  I think the photo 
                        > > of the top of this stool is not consistent with that of a used one, but clearly 
                        > > indicates a "made fro the market" piece, and is really rather an insult (in my 
                        > > opinion) of aged and genunine tribal stool-tops made and used for sitting.  Take 
                        > > a closer observation of the rest of the piece equally.  Considering it's purpose 
                        > > and asthetic relevence, "would you accept or sit on something like this" ??  
                        > > Genuine relics were certainly crafted with much more technical ability.  This 
                        > > is crude and lacks any artisian value... That of a "fake" (and I hate to use 
                        > > this word), or deceptive piece for the unassuming.
                        > >  
                        > > I do agree with you, in a sense, the upper surface it is much like a (cheap) and 
                        > > well used "cutting board".
                        > >  
                        > > Ed   
                        > > 
                        > > 
                        > > 
                        > > 
                        > > ________________________________
                        > > From: Chris <congabongoman@>
                        > > To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                        > > Sent: Thu, September 16, 2010 6:36:01 AM
                        > > Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Hemba fetishes, luba medicine cup and tabwa fetish 
                        > > stool
                        > > 
                        > >   
                        > > While I realize that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and don't expect folks 
                        > > to share my aesthetic tastes, frankly I'm shocked and a bit puzzled that no one 
                        > > appears to see the same features that I do in these pieces either stylistically 
                        > > or with respect to patina. By way of example, in my opinion, the jagged and 
                        > > scarred but shiny surface on the top of the Tabwa stool suggests that it was 
                        > > used (like a cutting board) for many years. Like the patina on the roughly 
                        > > carved body of the Hemba fetish, in my experience such patina on uneven and 
                        > > non-smooth surfaces is very hard to fake without the piece looking "dipped" or 
                        > > glazed in a very artificial way. Most commercially produced pieces, by contrast, 
                        > > look almost polished or sanded and show no nicks, scratches or other surface 
                        > > anomalies. Also, on the Hemba figure, I see old (dark) remnants of insect damage 
                        > > and lots of grime around the feet---again, showing variation from the sshininess 
                        > > of the top and suggesting that this piece has been around for a long time (and 
                        > > not on a shelf). Again, the commercial pieces I see for sale don't have such 
                        > > varied surfaces and tend to be evenly "dirty" or shiny throughout.
                        > > 
                        > > Since it's tough making a comparison in a vaccuum, perhaps you or Lee could 
                        > > identify a "commercial" piece or two (ie, provide a link or picture) that you 
                        > > believe are comparable to assist in this discussion?
                        > > 
                        > > Chris
                        > > 
                        > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "rpearsonpe" <rpearsonpe@> wrote:
                        > > >
                        > > > I agree with Lee, the pieces appear to be 'made for the trade' and are worth 
                        > > >whatever your buyer paid for them. That said, new pieces 'made for the trade' 
                        > > >can be nice 'decorations', but not interesting to a collector.
                        > > > 
                        > > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Lee Rubinstein <LeeRubinstein@> wrote:
                        > > > >
                        > > > > Chris:
                        > > > > 
                        > > > > In all honesty, I don't see anything among the objects pictured that 
                        > > > > transcends the quality of commercial offerings from various other 
                        > > > > sources including that to which you refer as "all the junk on Ebay." 
                        > > > > All of these pieces -- figures, posts, etc., seem to be on par with 
                        > > > > the bulk of contemporary, commercially produced offerings -- 
                        > > > > competently carved but in no way compelling and displaying surfaces 
                        > > > > and damages suggestive but not indicative of age and use. Cameroon 
                        > > > > is but one locale which serves as home to skillful carvers, and I 
                        > > > > imagine these pieces may have been carved in the Congo region but with 
                        > > > > the same intent as in workshops elsewhere on the continent. If the 
                        > > > > pieces move you, however, enjoy them and support the livelihoods of 
                        > > > > the carvers and traders, but I would be careful not to conflate 
                        > > > > aesthetic appreciation (which I must admit eludes me in these 
                        > > > > instances) with a reading of age and/or authenticity. That's just my 
                        > > > > take, and I hope this doesn't sound overly harsh. I am curious to 
                        > > > > hear your observations on how you perceive that these pieces surpass 
                        > > > > the many similar offerings on the market which are nearly identical in 
                        > > > > form, detail and quality of carving and whether anyone agrees or 
                        > > > > disagrees....
                        > > > > 
                        > > > > Lee
                        > > > > 
                        > > > > 
                        > > > > On Sep 14, 2010, at 10:02 AM, Chris wrote:
                        > > > > 
                        > > > > > I forgot to add that these [the Tabwa posts] are Tabwa Funkula.
                        > > > > >
                        > > > > > I've posted pics of some other exceptional DRC items that my friend 
                        > > > > > will be bringing stateside next month:
                        > > > > > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/African_Arts/photos/album/560798420/pic/list
                        > > > > >
                        > > > > > These are all very old and great quality. They include:
                        > > > > >
                        > > > > > an excellent hemba ancestor fetish (this is about a foot tall--the 
                        > > > > > patina and expressiveness of the face are exceptional on this piece);
                        > > > > >
                        > > > > > a Luba-Hemba janus figure--nice example (approx. 16 inches tall);
                        > > > > >
                        > > > > > an anthropomorthic Luba medicine cup (approx. 15 inches tall-- 
                        > > > > > slightly damaged but very old and nice); and
                        > > > > >
                        > > > > > a small Tabwa fetish stool/table (this is around 9 inches tall, also 
                        > > > > > damaged).
                        > > > > >
                        > > > > > Anyway, with all the junk on Ebay being carved in Cameroon and 
                        > > > > > claiming to be DRC pieces, I thought I'd post some pics of the real 
                        > > > > > things, which are scarce and becoming increasingly so.
                        > > > > >
                        > > > > > Any thoughts or comments welcome.
                        > > > > >
                        > > > > > Chris
                        > > > > >
                        > > > > >
                        > > > > >
                        > > > >
                        > > >
                        > >
                        >




                        ------------------------------------

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                      • GARYGLS2000@aol.com
                        Segy was very clever. In his book, African Sculpture, he interspersed photos of crude copies of African art in his gallery on Lexington Avenue (carved by
                        Message 11 of 20 , Sep 18, 2010
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                           Segy was very clever. In his book, African Sculpture, he interspersed photos of crude copies of African art in his gallery on Lexington Avenue (carved by sculptors in Italy using pictures from books) with  authentic pieces in the Metroplitan and British Museums. To the novice collector, this gave "authenticity" to Segy's gallery pieces. To my knowledge, Segy never visited Africa himself although he wrote a second book about African art and "cosmology." Remember, this was the early 1960's when Americans knew little or nothing about traditional African art and were eager to learn as much as they could about the sculpture.



                          -----Original Message-----
                          From: Ann Polly <pollyanna2424@...>
                          To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                          Sent: Sun, Sep 19, 2010 12:27 am
                          Subject: Re: [African_Arts] Re: Hemba fetishes, luba medicine cup and tabwa fetish stool

                           
                          Without a doubt, some of the pieces are questionable. However, on the subject of quality, I'd be very interested to know what people think of the objects in the book African Sculpture by Ladislas Segy.  If the book weren't copyrighted in 1958, I would swear a lot of the pieces were cheap reproductions.  Especially in light of the article on authenticity by Henri Kamer - http://www.randafricanart.com/Authenticity_of_African_Sculptures_Henri_Kamer.html .
                          Some of the pieces seem to lacking that finesse when compared to those objects in Jean-Baptiste Bacquart's Tribal Arts of Africa.
                           
                          Lisa
                           

                          From: Lee Rubinstein <LeeRubinstein@...>
                          To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                          Sent: Sat, September 18, 2010 11:03:29 AM
                          Subject: Re: [African_Arts] Re: Hemba fetishes, luba medicine cup and tabwa fetish stool



                          Thanks, Gary, for highlighting this ironic twist which I too had observed and questioned.  In addition to concerns regarding the quality and authenticity of the illustrated pieces -- to the extent one could analyze from the limited photographic illustrations -- some of the dates seemed highly conjectural...  In addition to the problematic attribution to the Kissi of the "caryatid medicine bowl" (and its identification as such?) , the "Kongo equestrian power figure (... circa 1950)" , "Ibo spirit maiden headdress," "Fang ngil helmet (... circa 1920)", "Ngata sarcopahagus (... 56" high, circa 1930)", etc., all beckon further scrutiny, consideration and analysis with regard to authenticity, quality and date.  

                          Descriptive data, generally speaking, is a minefield strewn with misattributions, ambiguities and questionable and unspecified sources.  As is true of any research -- and the descriptive elements attached to any object are essentially suggestive of an underlying body of research (ideally understood as in progress) -- citations and sources of information are important elements which effect the strength and veracity of the statements offered.  Unfortunately, the notes which identify an object -- particularly in many on-line presentations as well as in casual articles and brief catalogues, for example  -- frequently imply the hidden presence of this underlying verification.  The fact remains that the processes of attribution, authentication and verification are inevitably arduous -- complicated by erroneous conclusions and charged agendas.  Perhaps the most daunting factor in initiating these processes is the usual absence of complete object histories which are subsequently supplanted by insertion of elements from the proliferating plethora of questionable examples for comparison;  the inaccessibility of facts (i.e., the lack of a unique object biography)  for a specific object often prompts reliance upon vague plausibilities built amid the miasma of conflicting and variously informed opinions. 

                          Illuminating and insisting upon the complexity of due diligence (the application of scientific method) while also maintaining the pleasure and passion of discovery as well as aesthetic enjoyment -- is a primary challenge in this endeavor.  How do we extend the phase of generating and revising hypotheses and suspend the drawing of conclusions so that the inquiry yields a closer reading of truth that includes possibilities that were not recognized or considered at the onset of the inquiry?  How do we describe objects through the process? How do we maintain an openness to other possible identities and source contexts bearing little resemblance to those originally perceived/conceived?

                          ???
                           
                          On Sep 18, 2010, at 1:02 PM, GARYGLS2000@... wrote:


                          The article on authenticity in African art is, ironically, illustrated by a number of highly questionable pieces.
                           
                          In a message dated 9/18/2010 3:11:45 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time, bucit@... writes:
                           

                          Lisa,
                           
                          No one would legitimately debate the logic and principle of what you expressed (certainly me).  However, the conflict and confusion arises when someone believes (by deception, changing artistic expression or otherwise) that carved pieces taken in a "creative and new direction" are passed off as traditional and older relics.
                           
                          Supporting fresh and "evolving" traditional forms is one thing... Assuming and presenting them to be old traditional
                          carvings are something entirely different.  And the beat goes on...  
                           
                          Ed
                           
                           



                          From: Ann Polly <pollyanna2424@...>
                          To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                          Sent: Fri, September 17, 2010 2:48:07 PM
                          Subject: Re: [African_Arts] Re: Hemba fetishes, luba medicine cup and tabwa fetish stool

                           

                          Hello,
                           
                          Just had to add my two cents on this interesting thread.
                           
                          Firstly, I would like to share this interesting article on the issue of authenticity of African art:  http://www.maineantiquedigest.com/stories/?id=1823 .  
                           
                          I frequent a local African art store and had the pleasure to engage the owner in some frank discussions on authenticity.  She explained that she was once able to collect many tribally used pieces, but since the surge in popularity of African art, has found it exceedingly difficult. She said that many of these tribes realize the value in their tribal pieces, not purely from a monetary standpoint, but in terms of their cultural heritage.  She has watched many ceremonies and watched swarms of "vultures" beg to buy the masks once it ended.  According to her, many of the tribes people now refuse to sell their pieces and instead, direct her to their local carvers.  She has encountered more frequently on her excursions what she calls "Western backlash" - a general belief that people from the West are only interested in stealing their sacred and valueable possessions.  
                           
                          Most of us would love to own a tribally used piece, but I think that authenticity also means supporting local carvers and artists.  People shouldn't be turned off because a piece is not tribally used.  How many people would willingly sell their family's tombstone...yet would want authentic African funerary figures. By purchasing recently created  pieces,  you not only acquire a beautiful piece of African art, but you also support local carvers and in doing so keep the tradition and skills alive. I'm also an artist and know all too well that often times artist have to chose between the pursuit of their art & living a modest life style, or finding more stable means of employment & putting art aside.  In Africa, I imagine the choice to become a carver is not an easy one.  She also explained to me that local artists do make pieces of lesser quality, as these sell at a cheaper price and thus are more likely to be purchased.  More intricate pieces, take more time.  But if the demand for better quality pieces would grow, a supply of these will surely follow.  
                           
                          Another point she made was concerning the carvers artistic interpretation of a traditional piece.  As an artist, I should be more sensitive to that desire to add one's own stamp to a piece. But I admit that I'm conflicted because I secretly yearn to own that African antique and having one that is a significant departure from the examples in museums, well...breaks the illusion. It is an interesting dilemna, there is a high demand for traditional pieces, but many carvers want to be creative and take these traditional pieces into a new direction or fresh interpretation. Unfortunately, these pieces don't sell, and many  carvers are essentially stifled.  The store owner bought some of these pieces, and they are still on her shelves.  Right now there is a lovely male Chi wara on her self because it horns are different.
                           
                          My apologies for rambling on....I'm usually lurking in the shadows, quietly reading the emails...must be a full moon!
                           
                          Lisa



                          From: Chris <congabongoman@...>
                          To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                          Sent: Fri, September 17, 2010 11:06:10 AM
                          Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Hemba fetishes, luba medicine cup and tabwa fetish stool

                          Thanks for all the input.  I have seen many congolese pieces in many museums and wouldn't expect more recent pieces to necessarily be of the same style or quality as those found in museums.  Regardless of the authenticity (or not) of these pieces, I think it's interesting how many collectors and dealers seem to blur the lines between more recent congolese pieces, which may have been used ritually, and fakes made elsewhere, which are just fakes in the authenticity spectrum (ie, made to deceive).

                          I'm curious as to the general consensus of opinion on this issue.  Is it: 1. that there is no ritual use going on anymore; 2. that the culture of the peoples using them is no longer pristine, so the use doesn't really count; or perhaps 3. the ritually used pieces are so few now that they can't really be distinguished from non-used pieces, so all should be discounted?  Personally, I think that 3 is the only justifiable position.  I'm curious what others think.

                          Given that, even with a more-contemporary and used piece, a carver may make extra copies of the same piece for sale, so there may not be any real difference between one and the other from an artistic standpoint but a significant difference in their market value.  When it comes to this aspect of ritual use, I think it's interesting to what degree trust and "provenence" comes into play in determining value. I've heard that many pieces that are collected in the Congo today often end up sold with a manufactured provenence "from an old Belgian collection" or something similar before going into the market.  Similarly, many pieces once in museum collections may be sold off later due to lack of established provenence or documented authenticity.

                          I'll note that in reading the book on the african pieces from the Barnes collection, even in the 1930s it was said that there is no more real african art of any value remaining in Africa.  Behind this belief, I think, is the misperception that the colonial powers "took all the good stuff" and that whatever remained or was subsequently made by the surviving peoples is of no value. 

                          On the flipside, from a purely aesthetic standpoint, I've also seen more contemporary pieces that I personally find more interesting artisticly than some older 19th C pieces.  

                          Given that aesthetics are inherently subjective, and, except in the cases of very clear documentation, the provenence on many pieces may ultimately be similarly based on trust or subjective opinions, which are not always trustworthy or infallible, I find the market forces at work in the african art world to be very unusual and interesting. 

                          Anyway, sorry for the ramble but I'm in a bit of a rush.  I'm curious if anyone has any thoughts to add to this discussion.  Thanks again.

                          Chris 

                          --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "DC NYC" <davidcassera@...> wrote:
                          >
                          > Sorry Chris but I will have to agree with Ed on this one. Whether or not these are fakes made in Cameroon claiming to be DRC is not the question. It seems they were made in Congo but very recently.
                          > 
                          > I see objects like this quite frequently at the Chelsea storage unit where the Mali traders and other Africans sell poor quality and often fake objects. The photos of these objects are spot on in comparison to the low quality pieces being offered at the storage. You can also find Hemba pieces such as this at the flea market on 25th street opposite the Antiques galleries where Mark Eglinton has his gallery. 
                          > 
                          > I have seen many of the same type of late Hemba and Tabwa pieces for sale by the trader named Camera outside the Whitney museum on 76th Street and Madison Ave. 
                          > 
                          > If I can offer some advice I would say leave these objects in Africa, we don't need more of these types of objects in a market already flooded with copies meant to deceive. Try looking at examples of Congo pieces in Museums and reputable galleries to get an idea of what great quality looks like.
                          > 
                          > Dave Cassera
                          > New York City
                          > www.ancienttribal.com
                          > 
                          > 
                          > 
                          > 
                          > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Ed Jones <bucit@> wrote:
                          > >
                          > > 
                          > > ... By way of example, in my opinion, the jagged and scarred but shiny surface 
                          > > on the top of the Tabwa stool suggests that it was used (like a cutting board) 
                          > > for many years.  
                          > > 
                          > > Chris, 
                          > > Worn and "patinized" wood is not rough or worn in this way.  I think the photo 
                          > > of the top of this stool is not consistent with that of a used one, but clearly 
                          > > indicates a "made fro the market" piece, and is really rather an insult (in my 
                          > > opinion) of aged and genunine tribal stool-tops made and used for sitting.  Take 
                          > > a closer observation of the rest of the piece equally.  Considering it's purpose 
                          > > and asthetic relevence, "would you accept or sit on something like this" ??  
                          > > Genuine relics were certainly crafted with much more technical ability.  This 
                          > > is crude and lacks any artisian value... That of a "fake" (and I hate to use 
                          > > this word), or deceptive piece for the unassuming.
                          > >  
                          > > I do agree with you, in a sense, the upper surface it is much like a (cheap) and 
                          > > well used "cutting board".
                          > >  
                          > > Ed   
                          > > 
                          > > 
                          > > 
                          > > 
                          > > ________________________________
                          > > From: Chris <congabongoman@>
                          > > To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                          > > Sent: Thu, September 16, 2010 6:36:01 AM
                          > > Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Hemba fetishes, luba medicine cup and tabwa fetish 
                          > > stool
                          > > 
                          > >   
                          > > While I realize that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and don't expect folks 
                          > > to share my aesthetic tastes, frankly I'm shocked and a bit puzzled that no one 
                          > > appears to see the same features that I do in these pieces either stylistically 
                          > > or with respect to patina. By way of example, in my opinion, the jagged and 
                          > > scarred but shiny surface on the top of the Tabwa stool suggests that it was 
                          > > used (like a cutting board) for many years. Like the patina on the roughly 
                          > > carved body of the Hemba fetish, in my experience such patina on uneven and 
                          > > non-smooth surfaces is very hard to fake without the piece looking "dipped" or 
                          > > glazed in a very artificial way. Most commercially produced pieces, by contrast, 
                          > > look almost polished or sanded and show no nicks, scratches or other surface 
                          > > anomalies. Also, on the Hemba figure, I see old (dark) remnants of insect damage 
                          > > and lots of grime around the feet---again, showing variation from the sshininess 
                          > > of the top and suggesting that this piece has been around for a long time (and 
                          > > not on a shelf). Again, the commercial pieces I see for sale don't have such 
                          > > varied surfaces and tend to be evenly "dirty" or shiny throughout.
                          > > 
                          > > Since it's tough making a comparison in a vaccuum, perhaps you or Lee could 
                          > > identify a "commercial" piece or two (ie, provide a link or picture) that you 
                          > > believe are comparable to assist in this discussion?
                          > > 
                          > > Chris
                          > > 
                          > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "rpearsonpe" <rpearsonpe@> wrote:
                          > > >
                          > > > I agree with Lee, the pieces appear to be 'made for the trade' and are worth 
                          > > >whatever your buyer paid for them. That said, new pieces 'made for the trade' 
                          > > >can be nice 'decorations', but not interesting to a collector.
                          > > > 
                          > > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Lee Rubinstein <LeeRubinstein@> wrote:
                          > > > >
                          > > > > Chris:
                          > > > > 
                          > > > > In all honesty, I don't see anything among the objects pictured that 
                          > > > > transcends the quality of commercial offerings from various other 
                          > > > > sources including that to which you refer as "all the junk on Ebay." 
                          > > > > All of these pieces -- figures, posts, etc., seem to be on par with 
                          > > > > the bulk of contemporary, commercially produced offerings -- 
                          > > > > competently carved but in no way compelling and displaying surfaces 
                          > > > > and damages suggestive but not indicative of age and use. Cameroon 
                          > > > > is but one locale which serves as home to skillful carvers, and I 
                          > > > > imagine these pieces may have been carved in the Congo region but with 
                          > > > > the same intent as in workshops elsewhere on the continent. If the 
                          > > > > pieces move you, however, enjoy them and support the livelihoods of 
                          > > > > the carvers and traders, but I would be careful not to conflate 
                          > > > > aesthetic appreciation (which I must admit eludes me in these 
                          > > > > instances) with a reading of age and/or authenticity. That's just my 
                          > > > > take, and I hope this doesn't sound overly harsh. I am curious to 
                          > > > > hear your observations on how you perceive that these pieces surpass 
                          > > > > the many similar offerings on the market which are nearly identical in 
                          > > > > form, detail and quality of carving and whether anyone agrees or 
                          > > > > disagrees....
                          > > > > 
                          > > > > Lee
                          > > > > 
                          > > > > 
                          > > > > On Sep 14, 2010, at 10:02 AM, Chris wrote:
                          > > > > 
                          > > > > > I forgot to add that these [the Tabwa posts] are Tabwa Funkula.
                          > > > > >
                          > > > > > I've posted pics of some other exceptional DRC items that my friend 
                          > > > > > will be bringing stateside next month:
                          > > > > > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/African_Arts/photos/album/560798420/pic/list
                          > > > > >
                          > > > > > These are all very old and great quality. They include:
                          > > > > >
                          > > > > > an excellent hemba ancestor fetish (this is about a foot tall--the 
                          > > > > > patina and expressiveness of the face are exceptional on this piece);
                          > > > > >
                          > > > > > a Luba-Hemba janus figure--nice example (approx. 16 inches tall);
                          > > > > >
                          > > > > > an anthropomorthic Luba medicine cup (approx. 15 inches tall-- 
                          > > > > > slightly damaged but very old and nice); and
                          > > > > >
                          > > > > > a small Tabwa fetish stool/table (this is around 9 inches tall, also 
                          > > > > > damaged).
                          > > > > >
                          > > > > > Anyway, with all the junk on Ebay being carved in Cameroon and 
                          > > > > > claiming to be DRC pieces, I thought I'd post some pics of the real 
                          > > > > > things, which are scarce and becoming increasingly so.
                          > > > > >
                          > > > > > Any thoughts or comments welcome.
                          > > > > >
                          > > > > > Chris
                          > > > > >
                          > > > > >
                          > > > > >
                          > > > >
                          > > >
                          > >
                          >




                          ------------------------------------

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                        • Chris
                          Ed-- I just wanted to point out that, while I have referred to this piece as a stool because of its shape, in the Congo pieces like this are actually small
                          Message 12 of 20 , Sep 20, 2010
                          • 0 Attachment
                            Ed--

                            I just wanted to point out that, while I have referred to this piece as a "stool" because of its shape, in the Congo pieces like this are actually small tables on which ritual substances are prepared and are not for sitting--but for cutting. As such, these marks are not inconsistent with the pieces proferred use.

                            Chris
                            --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Ed Jones <bucit@...> wrote:
                            >
                            >
                            > ... By way of example, in my opinion, the jagged and scarred but shiny surface
                            > on the top of the Tabwa stool suggests that it was used (like a cutting board)
                            > for many years.  
                            >
                            > Chris,
                            > Worn and "patinized" wood is not rough or worn in this way.  I think the photo
                            > of the top of this stool is not consistent with that of a used one, but clearly
                            > indicates a "made fro the market" piece, and is really rather an insult (in my
                            > opinion) of aged and genunine tribal stool-tops made and used for sitting.  Take
                            > a closer observation of the rest of the piece equally.  Considering it's purpose
                            > and asthetic relevence, "would you accept or sit on something like this" ?? 
                            > Genuine relics were certainly crafted with much more technical ability.  This
                            > is crude and lacks any artisian value... That of a "fake" (and I hate to use
                            > this word), or deceptive piece for the unassuming.
                            >  
                            > I do agree with you, in a sense, the upper surface it is much like a (cheap) and
                            > well used "cutting board".
                            >  
                            > Ed  
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            > ________________________________
                            > From: Chris <congabongoman@...>
                            > To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                            > Sent: Thu, September 16, 2010 6:36:01 AM
                            > Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Hemba fetishes, luba medicine cup and tabwa fetish
                            > stool
                            >
                            >  
                            > While I realize that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and don't expect folks
                            > to share my aesthetic tastes, frankly I'm shocked and a bit puzzled that no one
                            > appears to see the same features that I do in these pieces either stylistically
                            > or with respect to patina. By way of example, in my opinion, the jagged and
                            > scarred but shiny surface on the top of the Tabwa stool suggests that it was
                            > used (like a cutting board) for many years. Like the patina on the roughly
                            > carved body of the Hemba fetish, in my experience such patina on uneven and
                            > non-smooth surfaces is very hard to fake without the piece looking "dipped" or
                            > glazed in a very artificial way. Most commercially produced pieces, by contrast,
                            > look almost polished or sanded and show no nicks, scratches or other surface
                            > anomalies. Also, on the Hemba figure, I see old (dark) remnants of insect damage
                            > and lots of grime around the feet---again, showing variation from the sshininess
                            > of the top and suggesting that this piece has been around for a long time (and
                            > not on a shelf). Again, the commercial pieces I see for sale don't have such
                            > varied surfaces and tend to be evenly "dirty" or shiny throughout.
                            >
                            > Since it's tough making a comparison in a vaccuum, perhaps you or Lee could
                            > identify a "commercial" piece or two (ie, provide a link or picture) that you
                            > believe are comparable to assist in this discussion?
                            >
                            > Chris
                            >
                            > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "rpearsonpe" <rpearsonpe@> wrote:
                            > >
                            > > I agree with Lee, the pieces appear to be 'made for the trade' and are worth
                            > >whatever your buyer paid for them. That said, new pieces 'made for the trade'
                            > >can be nice 'decorations', but not interesting to a collector.
                            > >
                            > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Lee Rubinstein <LeeRubinstein@> wrote:
                            > > >
                            > > > Chris:
                            > > >
                            > > > In all honesty, I don't see anything among the objects pictured that
                            > > > transcends the quality of commercial offerings from various other
                            > > > sources including that to which you refer as "all the junk on Ebay."
                            > > > All of these pieces -- figures, posts, etc., seem to be on par with
                            > > > the bulk of contemporary, commercially produced offerings --
                            > > > competently carved but in no way compelling and displaying surfaces
                            > > > and damages suggestive but not indicative of age and use. Cameroon
                            > > > is but one locale which serves as home to skillful carvers, and I
                            > > > imagine these pieces may have been carved in the Congo region but with
                            > > > the same intent as in workshops elsewhere on the continent. If the
                            > > > pieces move you, however, enjoy them and support the livelihoods of
                            > > > the carvers and traders, but I would be careful not to conflate
                            > > > aesthetic appreciation (which I must admit eludes me in these
                            > > > instances) with a reading of age and/or authenticity. That's just my
                            > > > take, and I hope this doesn't sound overly harsh. I am curious to
                            > > > hear your observations on how you perceive that these pieces surpass
                            > > > the many similar offerings on the market which are nearly identical in
                            > > > form, detail and quality of carving and whether anyone agrees or
                            > > > disagrees....
                            > > >
                            > > > Lee
                            > > >
                            > > >
                            > > > On Sep 14, 2010, at 10:02 AM, Chris wrote:
                            > > >
                            > > > > I forgot to add that these [the Tabwa posts] are Tabwa Funkula.
                            > > > >
                            > > > > I've posted pics of some other exceptional DRC items that my friend
                            > > > > will be bringing stateside next month:
                            > > > > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/African_Arts/photos/album/560798420/pic/list
                            > > > >
                            > > > > These are all very old and great quality. They include:
                            > > > >
                            > > > > an excellent hemba ancestor fetish (this is about a foot tall--the
                            > > > > patina and expressiveness of the face are exceptional on this piece);
                            > > > >
                            > > > > a Luba-Hemba janus figure--nice example (approx. 16 inches tall);
                            > > > >
                            > > > > an anthropomorthic Luba medicine cup (approx. 15 inches tall--
                            > > > > slightly damaged but very old and nice); and
                            > > > >
                            > > > > a small Tabwa fetish stool/table (this is around 9 inches tall, also
                            > > > > damaged).
                            > > > >
                            > > > > Anyway, with all the junk on Ebay being carved in Cameroon and
                            > > > > claiming to be DRC pieces, I thought I'd post some pics of the real
                            > > > > things, which are scarce and becoming increasingly so.
                            > > > >
                            > > > > Any thoughts or comments welcome.
                            > > > >
                            > > > > Chris
                            > > > >
                            > > > >
                            > > > >
                            > > >
                            > >
                            >
                          • Ed Jones
                            Chris,   Really??   I have a Congo stool (Zimba/Chewa are close affiliation), and am quite sure it was not intended or used for the purpose of a small
                            Message 13 of 20 , Sep 22, 2010
                            • 0 Attachment
                              Chris,
                               
                              Really??   I have a Congo "stool" (Zimba/Chewa are close affiliation), and am quite sure it was not intended or used for the purpose of a small table... Preparing ritual substances.
                              This may hold true for some occasional "stools", but are you stating it is a general practice through-out the Congo?  I think in tribal Africa, nearly  anything can become a functional table of sort and used purposefully.  My thoughts regarding the "stool/small table" in your photo remains unchanged.  It looks to be a crude work and most likely, a market carved piece made to deceive.  I have a very difficult time accepting it as anything else at this point.
                               
                              Thanks for your follow-up.
                              Ed


                              From: Chris <congabongoman@...>
                              To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                              Sent: Mon, September 20, 2010 6:32:15 AM
                              Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Hemba fetishes, luba medicine cup and tabwa fetish stool

                               


                              Ed--

                              I just wanted to point out that, while I have referred to this piece as a "stool" because of its shape, in the Congo pieces like this are actually small tables on which ritual substances are prepared and are not for sitting--but for cutting. As such, these marks are not inconsistent with the pieces proferred use.

                              Chris

                              --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Ed Jones <bucit@...> wrote:
                              >
                              >
                              > ... By way of example, in my opinion, the jagged and scarred but shiny surface
                              > on the top of the Tabwa stool suggests that it was used (like a cutting board)
                              > for many years.  
                              >
                              > Chris,
                              > Worn and "patinized" wood is not rough or worn in this way.  I think the photo
                              > of the top of this stool is not consistent with that of a used one, but clearly
                              > indicates a "made fro the market" piece, and is really rather an insult (in my
                              > opinion) of aged and genunine tribal stool-tops made and used for sitting.  Take
                              > a closer observation of the rest of the piece equally.  Considering it's purpose
                              > and asthetic relevence, "would you accept or sit on something like this" ?? 
                              > Genuine relics were certainly crafted with much more technical ability.  This
                              > is crude and lacks any artisian value... That of a "fake" (and I hate to use
                              > this word), or deceptive piece for the unassuming.
                              >  
                              > I do agree with you, in a sense, the upper surface it is much like a (cheap) and
                              > well used "cutting board".
                              >  
                              > Ed  
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              > ________________________________
                              > From: Chris <congabongoman@...>
                              > To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                              > Sent: Thu, September 16, 2010 6:36:01 AM
                              > Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Hemba fetishes, luba medicine cup and tabwa fetish
                              > stool
                              >
                              >  
                              > While I realize that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and don't expect folks
                              > to share my aesthetic tastes, frankly I'm shocked and a bit puzzled that no one
                              > appears to see the same features that I do in these pieces either stylistically
                              > or with respect to patina. By way of example, in my opinion, the jagged and
                              > scarred but shiny surface on the top of the Tabwa stool suggests that it was
                              > used (like a cutting board) for many years. Like the patina on the roughly
                              > carved body of the Hemba fetish, in my experience such patina on uneven and
                              > non-smooth surfaces is very hard to fake without the piece looking "dipped" or
                              > glazed in a very artificial way. Most commercially produced pieces, by contrast,
                              > look almost polished or sanded and show no nicks, scratches or other surface
                              > anomalies. Also, on the Hemba figure, I see old (dark) remnants of insect damage
                              > and lots of grime around the feet---again, showing variation from the sshininess
                              > of the top and suggesting that this piece has been around for a long time (and
                              > not on a shelf). Again, the commercial pieces I see for sale don't have such
                              > varied surfaces and tend to be evenly "dirty" or shiny throughout.
                              >
                              > Since it's tough making a comparison in a vaccuum, perhaps you or Lee could
                              > identify a "commercial" piece or two (ie, provide a link or picture) that you
                              > believe are comparable to assist in this discussion?
                              >
                              > Chris
                              >
                              > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "rpearsonpe" <rpearsonpe@> wrote:
                              > >
                              > > I agree with Lee, the pieces appear to be 'made for the trade' and are worth
                              > >whatever your buyer paid for them. That said, new pieces 'made for the trade'
                              > >can be nice 'decorations', but not interesting to a collector.
                              > >
                              > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Lee Rubinstein <LeeRubinstein@> wrote:
                              > > >
                              > > > Chris:
                              > > >
                              > > > In all honesty, I don't see anything among the objects pictured that
                              > > > transcends the quality of commercial offerings from various other
                              > > > sources including that to which you refer as "all the junk on Ebay."
                              > > > All of these pieces -- figures, posts, etc., seem to be on par with
                              > > > the bulk of contemporary, commercially produced offerings --
                              > > > competently carved but in no way compelling and displaying surfaces
                              > > > and damages suggestive but not indicative of age and use. Cameroon
                              > > > is but one locale which serves as home to skillful carvers, and I
                              > > > imagine these pieces may have been carved in the Congo region but with
                              > > > the same intent as in workshops elsewhere on the continent. If the
                              > > > pieces move you, however, enjoy them and support the livelihoods of
                              > > > the carvers and traders, but I would be careful not to conflate
                              > > > aesthetic appreciation (which I must admit eludes me in these
                              > > > instances) with a reading of age and/or authenticity. That's just my
                              > > > take, and I hope this doesn't sound overly harsh. I am curious to
                              > > > hear your observations on how you perceive that these pieces surpass
                              > > > the many similar offerings on the market which are nearly identical in
                              > > > form, detail and quality of carving and whether anyone agrees or
                              > > > disagrees....
                              > > >
                              > > > Lee
                              > > >
                              > > >
                              > > > On Sep 14, 2010, at 10:02 AM, Chris wrote:
                              > > >
                              > > > > I forgot to add that these [the Tabwa posts] are Tabwa Funkula.
                              > > > >
                              > > > > I've posted pics of some other exceptional DRC items that my friend
                              > > > > will be bringing stateside next month:
                              > > > > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/African_Arts/photos/album/560798420/pic/list
                              > > > >
                              > > > > These are all very old and great quality. They include:
                              > > > >
                              > > > > an excellent hemba ancestor fetish (this is about a foot tall--the
                              > > > > patina and expressiveness of the face are exceptional on this piece);
                              > > > >
                              > > > > a Luba-Hemba janus figure--nice example (approx. 16 inches tall);
                              > > > >
                              > > > > an anthropomorthic Luba medicine cup (approx. 15 inches tall--
                              > > > > slightly damaged but very old and nice); and
                              > > > >
                              > > > > a small Tabwa fetish stool/table (this is around 9 inches tall, also
                              > > > > damaged).
                              > > > >
                              > > > > Anyway, with all the junk on Ebay being carved in Cameroon and
                              > > > > claiming to be DRC pieces, I thought I'd post some pics of the real
                              > > > > things, which are scarce and becoming increasingly so.
                              > > > >
                              > > > > Any thoughts or comments welcome.
                              > > > >
                              > > > > Chris
                              > > > >
                              > > > >
                              > > > >
                              > > >
                              > >
                              >


                            • Chris
                              Ed-- Not trying to change your opinion to which you are certainly entitled. Just pointing out that this piece does not purport to be a stool used for
                              Message 14 of 20 , Sep 24, 2010
                              • 0 Attachment
                                Ed-- Not trying to change your opinion to which you are certainly entitled. Just pointing out that this piece does not purport to be a stool used for sitting, hence the absence of an even, smooth surface on the top of the piece does not militate in favor of a conclusion that it was intended to deceive, as you suggest. Certainly there are many stools in the Congo that are used for sitting--this just doesn't purport to be one of them.

                                I also find it interesting that you seem to equate the quality or crudeness of carving of a piece with whether or not it was ritually used--in my mind, these are two separate and distinct concepts. Many "crude works" are used today in the Congo for ritualistic purposes, while many finely carved pieces in the market are commercially carved and meant to deceive.

                                Perhaps you could elaborate on the bases for your opinion...or is it just that you know a ritually used piece when you see one?


                                --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Ed Jones <bucit@...> wrote:
                                >
                                > Chris,
                                >  
                                > Really??   I have a Congo "stool" (Zimba/Chewa are close affiliation), and am
                                > quite sure it was not intended or used for the purpose of a small table...
                                > Preparing ritual substances.
                                > This may hold true for some occasional "stools", but are you stating it is a
                                > general practice through-out the Congo?  I think in tribal Africa, nearly 
                                > anything can become a functional table of sort and used purposefully. 
                                > My thoughts regarding the "stool/small table" in your photo remains unchanged. 
                                > It looks to be a crude work and most likely, a market carved piece made to
                                > deceive.  I have a very difficult time accepting it as anything else at this
                                > point.
                                >  
                                > Thanks for your follow-up.
                                > Ed
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                >
                                > ________________________________
                                > From: Chris <congabongoman@...>
                                > To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                                > Sent: Mon, September 20, 2010 6:32:15 AM
                                > Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Hemba fetishes, luba medicine cup and tabwa fetish
                                > stool
                                >
                                >  
                                >
                                > Ed--
                                >
                                > I just wanted to point out that, while I have referred to this piece as a
                                > "stool" because of its shape, in the Congo pieces like this are actually small
                                > tables on which ritual substances are prepared and are not for sitting--but for
                                > cutting. As such, these marks are not inconsistent with the pieces proferred
                                > use.
                                >
                                > Chris
                                > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Ed Jones <bucit@> wrote:
                                > >
                                > >
                                > > ... By way of example, in my opinion, the jagged and scarred but shiny surface
                                >
                                > > on the top of the Tabwa stool suggests that it was used (like a cutting board)
                                >
                                > > for many years.  
                                > >
                                > > Chris,
                                > > Worn and "patinized" wood is not rough or worn in this way.  I think the photo
                                > >
                                > > of the top of this stool is not consistent with that of a used one, but clearly
                                > >
                                > > indicates a "made fro the market" piece, and is really rather an insult (in my
                                > >
                                > > opinion) of aged and genunine tribal stool-tops made and used for sitting. 
                                > >Take
                                > >
                                > > a closer observation of the rest of the piece equally.  Considering it's
                                > >purpose
                                > >
                                > > and asthetic relevence, "would you accept or sit on something like this" ?? 
                                > >
                                > > Genuine relics were certainly crafted with much more technical ability.  This
                                > >
                                > > is crude and lacks any artisian value... That of a "fake" (and I hate to use
                                > > this word), or deceptive piece for the unassuming.
                                > >  
                                > > I do agree with you, in a sense, the upper surface it is much like a (cheap)
                                > >and
                                > >
                                > > well used "cutting board".
                                > >  
                                > > Ed  
                                > >
                                > >
                                > >
                                > >
                                > > ________________________________
                                > > From: Chris <congabongoman@>
                                > > To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                                > > Sent: Thu, September 16, 2010 6:36:01 AM
                                > > Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Hemba fetishes, luba medicine cup and tabwa fetish
                                >
                                > > stool
                                > >
                                > >  
                                > > While I realize that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and don't expect
                                > >folks
                                > >
                                > > to share my aesthetic tastes, frankly I'm shocked and a bit puzzled that no one
                                > >
                                > > appears to see the same features that I do in these pieces either stylistically
                                > >
                                > > or with respect to patina. By way of example, in my opinion, the jagged and
                                > > scarred but shiny surface on the top of the Tabwa stool suggests that it was
                                > > used (like a cutting board) for many years. Like the patina on the roughly
                                > > carved body of the Hemba fetish, in my experience such patina on uneven and
                                > > non-smooth surfaces is very hard to fake without the piece looking "dipped" or
                                >
                                > > glazed in a very artificial way. Most commercially produced pieces, by
                                > >contrast,
                                > >
                                > > look almost polished or sanded and show no nicks, scratches or other surface
                                > > anomalies. Also, on the Hemba figure, I see old (dark) remnants of insect
                                > >damage
                                > >
                                > > and lots of grime around the feet---again, showing variation from the
                                > >sshininess
                                > >
                                > > of the top and suggesting that this piece has been around for a long time (and
                                >
                                > > not on a shelf). Again, the commercial pieces I see for sale don't have such
                                > > varied surfaces and tend to be evenly "dirty" or shiny throughout.
                                > >
                                > > Since it's tough making a comparison in a vaccuum, perhaps you or Lee could
                                > > identify a "commercial" piece or two (ie, provide a link or picture) that you
                                > > believe are comparable to assist in this discussion?
                                > >
                                > > Chris
                                > >
                                > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "rpearsonpe" <rpearsonpe@> wrote:
                                > > >
                                > > > I agree with Lee, the pieces appear to be 'made for the trade' and are worth
                                >
                                > > >whatever your buyer paid for them. That said, new pieces 'made for the trade'
                                >
                                > > >can be nice 'decorations', but not interesting to a collector.
                                > > >
                                > > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Lee Rubinstein <LeeRubinstein@> wrote:
                                > > > >
                                > > > > Chris:
                                > > > >
                                > > > > In all honesty, I don't see anything among the objects pictured that
                                > > > > transcends the quality of commercial offerings from various other
                                > > > > sources including that to which you refer as "all the junk on Ebay."
                                > > > > All of these pieces -- figures, posts, etc., seem to be on par with
                                > > > > the bulk of contemporary, commercially produced offerings --
                                > > > > competently carved but in no way compelling and displaying surfaces
                                > > > > and damages suggestive but not indicative of age and use. Cameroon
                                > > > > is but one locale which serves as home to skillful carvers, and I
                                > > > > imagine these pieces may have been carved in the Congo region but with
                                > > > > the same intent as in workshops elsewhere on the continent. If the
                                > > > > pieces move you, however, enjoy them and support the livelihoods of
                                > > > > the carvers and traders, but I would be careful not to conflate
                                > > > > aesthetic appreciation (which I must admit eludes me in these
                                > > > > instances) with a reading of age and/or authenticity. That's just my
                                > > > > take, and I hope this doesn't sound overly harsh. I am curious to
                                > > > > hear your observations on how you perceive that these pieces surpass
                                > > > > the many similar offerings on the market which are nearly identical in
                                > > > > form, detail and quality of carving and whether anyone agrees or
                                > > > > disagrees....
                                > > > >
                                > > > > Lee
                                > > > >
                                > > > >
                                > > > > On Sep 14, 2010, at 10:02 AM, Chris wrote:
                                > > > >
                                > > > > > I forgot to add that these [the Tabwa posts] are Tabwa Funkula.
                                > > > > >
                                > > > > > I've posted pics of some other exceptional DRC items that my friend
                                > > > > > will be bringing stateside next month:
                                > > > > >
                                > >http://groups.yahoo.com/group/African_Arts/photos/album/560798420/pic/list
                                > > > > >
                                > > > > > These are all very old and great quality. They include:
                                > > > > >
                                > > > > > an excellent hemba ancestor fetish (this is about a foot tall--the
                                > > > > > patina and expressiveness of the face are exceptional on this piece);
                                > > > > >
                                > > > > > a Luba-Hemba janus figure--nice example (approx. 16 inches tall);
                                > > > > >
                                > > > > > an anthropomorthic Luba medicine cup (approx. 15 inches tall--
                                > > > > > slightly damaged but very old and nice); and
                                > > > > >
                                > > > > > a small Tabwa fetish stool/table (this is around 9 inches tall, also
                                > > > > > damaged).
                                > > > > >
                                > > > > > Anyway, with all the junk on Ebay being carved in Cameroon and
                                > > > > > claiming to be DRC pieces, I thought I'd post some pics of the real
                                > > > > > things, which are scarce and becoming increasingly so.
                                > > > > >
                                > > > > > Any thoughts or comments welcome.
                                > > > > >
                                > > > > > Chris
                                > > > > >
                                > > > > >
                                > > > > >
                                > > > >
                                > > >
                                > >
                                >
                              • Ed Jones
                                Chris,   Okay... Noted.  Once again, I believe that worn and patinized wood is not rough or exhibit use in this way. I think the photo of the top of this
                                Message 15 of 20 , Sep 25, 2010
                                • 0 Attachment
                                  Chris,
                                   
                                  Okay... Noted.  Once again, I believe that worn and "patinized" wood is not rough or exhibit use in this way. I think the photo of the top of this stool is not consistent with that of a used one.  That's about all the elaboration I can/will provide without knowing the "ritual use" you obviously suggest.  Are ritually used objects typically shiny?  True.  I am no authority at all on the varying degrees of ritualistic pieces among the tribal affiliations (let alone, in the Congo region).  However, this "thing" has no indication of libation, encrustation, cuttings or sacrifice of such use.  What-ever you know and can prove that represents such a claim would be better served if you were more willing to share it.    

                                   

                                  ...I also find it interesting that you seem to equate the quality or crudeness of carving of a piece with whether or not it was ritually used--in my mind, these are two separate and distinct concepts.  

                                   

                                  The topic is merely about this particular piece... not all "crudely carved pieces in general.   I did not suggest such a rationale.  Apparently, we have a difference of opinion/perception ... Which is okay.  In the final analysis, I am perfectly fine "agreeing to disagree" about this piece.

                                   

                                  Ed




                                  From: Chris <congabongoman@...>
                                  To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                                  Sent: Fri, September 24, 2010 5:46:42 AM
                                  Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Hemba fetishes, luba medicine cup and tabwa fetish stool

                                   


                                  Ed-- Not trying to change your opinion to which you are certainly entitled. Just pointing out that this piece does not purport to be a stool used for sitting, hence the absence of an even, smooth surface on the top of the piece does not militate in favor of a conclusion that it was intended to deceive, as you suggest. Certainly there are many stools in the Congo that are used for sitting--this just doesn't purport to be one of them.

                                  I also find it interesting that you seem to equate the quality or crudeness of carving of a piece with whether or not it was ritually used--in my mind, these are two separate and distinct concepts. Many "crude works" are used today in the Congo for ritualistic purposes, while many finely carved pieces in the market are commercially carved and meant to deceive.

                                  Perhaps you could elaborate on the bases for your opinion...or is it just that you know a ritually used piece when you see one?

                                  --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Ed Jones <bucit@...> wrote:

                                  >
                                  > Chris,
                                  >  
                                  > Really??   I have a Congo "stool" (Zimba/Chewa are close affiliation), and am
                                  > quite sure it was not intended or used for the purpose of a small table...
                                  > Preparing ritual substances.
                                  > This may hold true for some occasional "stools", but are you stating it is a
                                  > general practice through-out the Congo?  I think in tribal Africa, nearly 
                                  > anything can become a functional table of sort and used purposefully. 
                                  > My thoughts regarding the "stool/small table" in your photo remains unchanged. 
                                  > It looks to be a crude work and most likely, a market carved piece made to
                                  >
                                  deceive.  I have a very difficult time accepting it as anything else at this
                                  > point.
                                  >  
                                  > Thanks for your follow-up.
                                  > Ed
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  > ________________________________
                                  > From: Chris <congabongoman@...>
                                  > To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                                  > Sent: Mon, September 20, 2010 6:32:15 AM
                                  > Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Hemba fetishes, luba medicine cup and tabwa fetish
                                  > stool
                                  >
                                  >  
                                  >
                                  > Ed--
                                  >
                                  > I just wanted to point out that, while I have referred to this piece as a
                                  > "stool" because of its shape, in the Congo pieces like this are actually small
                                  > tables on which ritual substances are prepared and are not for sitting--but for
                                  > cutting. As such, these
                                  marks are not inconsistent with the pieces proferred
                                  > use.
                                  >
                                  > Chris
                                  > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Ed Jones <bucit@> wrote:
                                  > >
                                  > >
                                  > > ... By way of example, in my opinion, the jagged and scarred but shiny surface
                                  >
                                  > > on the top of the Tabwa stool suggests that it was used (like a cutting board)
                                  >
                                  > > for many years.  
                                  > >
                                  > > Chris,
                                  > > Worn and "patinized" wood is not rough or worn in this way.  I think the photo
                                  > >
                                  > > of the top of this stool is not consistent with that of a used one, but clearly
                                  > >
                                  > > indicates a "made fro the market" piece, and is really rather an insult (in my
                                  > >
                                  > > opinion) of aged and genunine tribal stool-tops made and used for sitting. 
                                  > >Take
                                  > >
                                  > > a closer observation of the rest of the piece equally.  Considering it's
                                  > >purpose
                                  > >
                                  > > and asthetic relevence, "would you accept or sit on something like this" ?? 
                                  > >
                                  > > Genuine relics were certainly crafted with much more technical ability.  This
                                  > >
                                  > > is crude and lacks any artisian value... That of a "fake" (and I hate to use
                                  > > this word), or deceptive piece for the unassuming.
                                  > >  
                                  > > I do agree with you, in a sense, the upper surface it is much like a (cheap)
                                  > >and
                                  > >
                                  > > well used "cutting board".
                                  > >  
                                  > >
                                  Ed  
                                  > >
                                  > >
                                  > >
                                  > >
                                  > > ________________________________
                                  > > From: Chris <congabongoman@>
                                  > > To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                                  > > Sent: Thu, September 16, 2010 6:36:01 AM
                                  > > Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Hemba fetishes, luba medicine cup and tabwa fetish
                                  >
                                  > > stool
                                  > >
                                  > >  
                                  > > While I realize that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and don't expect
                                  > >folks
                                  > >
                                  > > to share my aesthetic tastes, frankly I'm shocked and a bit puzzled that no one
                                  > >
                                  > > appears to see the same features that I do in these pieces either stylistically
                                  > >
                                  > > or with respect to patina. By way of example, in
                                  my opinion, the jagged and
                                  > > scarred but shiny surface on the top of the Tabwa stool suggests that it was
                                  > > used (like a cutting board) for many years. Like the patina on the roughly
                                  > > carved body of the Hemba fetish, in my experience such patina on uneven and
                                  > > non-smooth surfaces is very hard to fake without the piece looking "dipped" or
                                  >
                                  > > glazed in a very artificial way. Most commercially produced pieces, by
                                  > >contrast,
                                  > >
                                  > > look almost polished or sanded and show no nicks, scratches or other surface
                                  > > anomalies. Also, on the Hemba figure, I see old (dark) remnants of insect
                                  > >damage
                                  > >
                                  > > and lots of grime around the feet---again, showing variation from the
                                  > >sshininess
                                  > >
                                  > > of the top and suggesting that this piece has been around for a long time (and
                                  >
                                  > > not on a shelf). Again, the commercial pieces I see for sale don't have such
                                  > > varied surfaces and tend to be evenly "dirty" or shiny throughout.
                                  > >
                                  > > Since it's tough making a comparison in a vaccuum, perhaps you or Lee could
                                  > > identify a "commercial" piece or two (ie, provide a link or picture) that you
                                  > > believe are comparable to assist in this discussion?
                                  > >
                                  > > Chris
                                  > >
                                  > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "rpearsonpe" <rpearsonpe@> wrote:
                                  > > >
                                  > > > I agree with Lee, the pieces appear to be 'made for the trade' and are worth
                                  >
                                  > > >whatever your buyer paid for them. That said, new pieces 'made for the trade'
                                  >
                                  > > >can be nice 'decorations', but
                                  not interesting to a collector.
                                  > > >
                                  > > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Lee Rubinstein <LeeRubinstein@> wrote:
                                  > > > >
                                  > > > > Chris:
                                  > > > >
                                  > > > > In all honesty, I don't see anything among the objects pictured that
                                  > > > > transcends the quality of commercial offerings from various other
                                  > > > > sources including that to which you refer as "all the junk on Ebay."
                                  > > > > All of these pieces -- figures, posts, etc., seem to be on par with
                                  > > > > the bulk of contemporary, commercially produced offerings --
                                  > > > > competently carved but in no way compelling and displaying surfaces
                                  > > > > and damages suggestive but not indicative of
                                  age and use. Cameroon
                                  > > > > is but one locale which serves as home to skillful carvers, and I
                                  > > > > imagine these pieces may have been carved in the Congo region but with
                                  > > > > the same intent as in workshops elsewhere on the continent. If the
                                  > > > > pieces move you, however, enjoy them and support the livelihoods of
                                  > > > > the carvers and traders, but I would be careful not to conflate
                                  > > > > aesthetic appreciation (which I must admit eludes me in these
                                  > > > > instances) with a reading of age and/or authenticity. That's just my
                                  > > > > take, and I hope this doesn't sound overly harsh. I am curious to
                                  > > > > hear your observations on how you perceive that these pieces surpass
                                  > > > > the many similar offerings on the market which are nearly identical in
                                  > > > > form,
                                  detail and quality of carving and whether anyone agrees or
                                  > > > > disagrees....
                                  > > > >
                                  > > > > Lee
                                  > > > >
                                  > > > >
                                  > > > > On Sep 14, 2010, at 10:02 AM, Chris wrote:
                                  > > > >
                                  > > > > > I forgot to add that these [the Tabwa posts] are Tabwa Funkula.
                                  > > > > >
                                  > > > > > I've posted pics of some other exceptional DRC items that my friend
                                  > > > > > will be bringing stateside next month:
                                  > > > > >
                                  > >http://groups.yahoo.com/group/African_Arts/photos/album/560798420/pic/list
                                  > > > > >
                                  > > > > > These are all very old and great quality. They include:
                                  > > > > >
                                  > > > > > an excellent hemba ancestor fetish (this is about a foot tall--the
                                  > > > > > patina and
                                  expressiveness of the face are exceptional on this piece);
                                  > > > > >
                                  > > > > > a Luba-Hemba janus figure--nice example (approx. 16 inches tall);
                                  > > > > >
                                  > > > > > an anthropomorthic Luba medicine cup (approx. 15 inches tall--
                                  > > > > > slightly damaged but very old and nice); and
                                  > > > > >
                                  > > > > > a small Tabwa fetish stool/table (this is around 9 inches tall, also
                                  > > > > > damaged).
                                  > > > > >
                                  > > > > > Anyway, with all the junk on Ebay being carved in Cameroon and
                                  > > > > > claiming to be DRC pieces, I thought I'd post some pics of the real
                                  > > > > > things, which are scarce and becoming increasingly so.
                                  > > > > >
                                  > > > > > Any thoughts or comments welcome.
                                  > > > > >
                                  > > > > > Chris
                                  > > > > >
                                  > > > > >
                                  > > > > >
                                  > > > >
                                  > > >
                                  > >
                                  >


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