Art d'Afrique et d'Océanie

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Lot n° 22 - Attiol (a-Tshol) anthropozoomorphic altar figure, Baga Sitému or Mandori, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea
H. 19.3 in - W. 30.5 in

Provenance:
- Collection Patricia Withofs, Londres
- Collection privée, New York

Hardwood with dark brown to black patina, partially oozing, tapestry nails, metal spikes, usage accidents. Just like when the “prophet” William
Wade Harris came to the Ivory Coast's lagoon regions in 1914 or the Massa cult was introduced to the Senufo in the 50s, Baga underwent a cultural and religious revolution with the arrival of Islam in the mid-1950s. Rituals were abandoned and any related relics became less important. This “favourable” situation partly explains the abundant collections garnered by major traders and collectors such as Hélène Kamer and Maurice Nicaud in the last decade. People knew about Tshols as early as the late 19th century (one at the Musée de l'Homme in 1883) and very low numbers of them appeared during the interwar period (one at the Toulouse Natural History Museum acquired in 1937 from the H. Labouret expedition) but they weren't really recognised by amateurs until the late 1950s. A-Tshol is a protective spirit with several roles: it can detect evil bush genies and crimes, treat sickness and take part in young people's initiation ceremonies. It was the most respected item in the clan. It was hidden in the clan or elder's sacred house and placed on a platform as it should never touch the ground. A witchdoctor/healer guarded it. This a-Tshol has an openwork human head with a ridge line and chignon, a long muzzle (bird or crocodile) on a slim neck on a wide openwork cylindrical base.
This piece is made of two single parts: the head, muzzle and neck then the base.
Upholstery nails line and adorn the piece. Like other Tshols, this one must have had animal horns filled with magical substances in the head's cut-outs.
The patina is very deep with an encrusted surface. It was coated in kola nut juice, palm oil, the blood of a white cockerel and palm wine.
In aesthetic terms, this a-Tshol is one of the most remarkable examples of these age old cults.

Attiol (a Tshol) anthropozoomorphic altar figure, Baga Sitému or Mandori, Guinea Bissau, Guinea H. 19.3 in W. 30.5 in Provenance: Collection Patricia Withofs, Londres Collection pr…

Lot n° 27 - Female bust, byeri ancestor figure (eyema-o-byeri)
Fang, Ntumu Group
Atlantic Equatorial Africa, Gabon
Wood with thick black patina (seeping in places), brass decoration
H. 13.8 in

This delicately sculpted female bust with a black, thick and seeping patina, is a work that is  characteristic of the Fang people in northern Gabon or the neighbouring Rio Muni region. As Günter Tessmann noted in 1907 in Rio Muni, among the Ntumu and Okak Fang (Die Pangwe, 1913, vol. II, Abb. 43 and 44) some ancestor effigies were not full-length statues, but busts or half-length figures standing on a hollowed base that was inserted into a reliquary made of stitched nsekh byeri bark containing the skulls of important deceased ancestors, both men and women.
Here, the sculpture is a bust of a young woman, with a cylindrical torso, with small, scarcely formed, cone-shaped breasts set far apart and strongly eroded at the tips, and decorated with a brass, ovalshaped pectoral fixed with a nail. The neck features a high brass necklace that is tied behind using interlacing metal strips, to our knowledge one of a kind, while the tops of the arms are decorated with bracelet bands, also made of brass. The headpiece is a helmet, set at the rear of the forehead and including a slightly embossed central ridge, extending down to a long ponytail forming a neck covering, set apart from the neck.

The face is in perfectly traditional Fang style, with a wide, quarter sphere-shaped forehead with decoration in the centre and a very hollow (probably made of a metal piece of which only two iron picks remain), heart-shaped face, a fairly long nose with a flattened base, a wide mouth, thick, protruding lips (forming the “Fang pout”) and eyes marked by thick traces of resin that were at the beginning probably used to keep brass rings. The artist has managed to magnify the face both in profile and from the front. From the side, the size of the head is well balanced, with almost axial symmetry between the protruding mouth and the hair that rises behind the neck. From the front, the artist has achieved a very elegant result for the face. The vein giving structure to the head covering features two notches at the top of the skull where red parrot feathers were inserted.

Below the beautifully rounded shoulders, the arms are separated from the torso. The ends of the arms are missing; it is highly likely that alongside the ravages of time, pieces of wood were ritually
removed from this part of the sculpture over several decades to add to the magical efficacy of the “medicine” linked to the byeri. In comparison with Fang works of the same type (not including the statues that are cut off at the hips, and not to be confused with the busts), especially the ones collected by G. Tessmann during his field trip in Rio Muni in 1904-1907, but also others brought back by missionaries in the early 20th century (cf. Perrois La statuaire fañ, Gabon, 1972, n° 118, p. 375; n° 159, p. 363; n° 160, p. 364; n° 6, p. 368; n° 18, p. 369; n° 74, p. 371), this sculpture can be identified as the work of the Ntumu, one of the main Fang groups, living in northern Gabon in the Crystal Mountains, on the edge of Rio Muni, in the 19th century. To judge by the patina, by the many areas impregnated with ritual oil and by the signs of use, this is a very old work that may date from the early 19th century.

Conclusion
This female bust is very old – as can be seen in its exceptional, thick patina – and expresses all the spirituality and humanism of the Fang people through its simple structure, with a youthful breast bearing hope and the promise of continuing the lineage, and a head that is typical of Ntumu sculpture, with the rounded forehead and the heart-shaped face, adorned with a helmet with an central ridge extending to the full neck covering. When placed on a reliquary, it could also act as the guardian of the ancestors’ bones and the mediator between the living and the dead.

Some bibliographic references.
- Musée Dapper, 1991, Fang, textes de Ph. Laburthe-Tolra, Ch. Falgayrette-Leveau, extraits traduits de Die Pangwe, 1913, Günter Tessmann avec des ill.
- Musée Dapper, 2006, « Gabon, présence des esprits », Paris.
- Bernard de Grunne (sous la direction de ), 2001, Mains de maîtres, catalogue, Bruxelles.
- Hélène Joubert (dir.), 2017, Éclectique, une collection du XXIe siècle, Catalogue d’une exposition du Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac, Paris.
- Alisa Lagamma (sous la direction de), 2007, Eternal Ancestors, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
- Louis Perrois 1972, La statuaire fañ, Gabon, Orstom, Paris (thèse Paris Sorbonne 1971)
1979, Arts du Gabon, AAN, Arnouville.
1985, Ancestral Art of Gabon, Barbier-Mueller Museum, Geneva.
1992, Byeri fang, Sculptures d'ancêtres en Afrique, RMN, musée de Marseille.
2006, Fang, série « Visions d’Afrique », Editions 5 Continents, Milan.
- Günter Tessmann 1913, Die Pangwe, Berlin.

Works for comparison
Seen in the field, archives G. Tessmann in Die Pangwe, 1913, vol. II, Abb. 43 and 44: Busts (torso/head) seen by Tessmann in about 1907.
Fang and Ntumu (Rio Muni).

BARAKA: AN OUTPOST OF PROGRESS…IN UNDERSTANDING THE FANG

Although the waters off Gabon had been visited by Europeans for over half a millennium, from when Portuguese caravelles first moored at Fernando Pó, the Fang people were still only known by hearsay until the second half of the 19th century. The history of their art was known only to a handful of privileged observers.
It is worthwhile taking the time to look at protagonists who are seen as more secondary or at some of the less well-known events that do nonetheless help us understand Fang culture. Paul Belloni du Chaillu is rightly remembered for making the first real visit to Fang country, but those who blazed the trail before him are still less well known.
We owe the earliest contacts with the Fang (then known as the Pahouins), in fact, to American missionaries.
On 22 June 1842, three years after the future admiral Bouët-Willaumez signed a treaty with local chieftains placing Gabon under the protection of France, the Reverends Walker, John Leighton Wilson and Benjamin Griswold, from the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, landed in the estuary and founded the Baraka mission in Glass, a region named after the local king and now a district of Libreville. In August, Leighton travelled up the lower valleys of the River Ramboué and River Como, and met Fang people for the first time, individuals with a scandalous reputation, who were universally vilified by the inhabitants of the Glass region, the Mpongwe. These men, "who came from the interior of the country, with some walking for five to twelve days"1, seemed to him, on the contrary, to be highly "civilised". He describes them as the most handsome Africans he had ever seen, "far superior in their appearance" to others, probably due to the fresh mountain air in the regions that were their home. The clergyman reacted enthusiastically to their skilfullymade accessories, which he traded for powder, copper and pearls. Over the next few years, his colleagues W. M. Walker, Preston and Griswold penetrated deeper into Fang regions.
Although the Christian community had earlier founded the Cape Palmas episcopal mission in Liberia, which presented the first known Grebo mask to the Peabody Museum in Salem in 1839, they seem not to have given the institution such spectacular specimens of Fang culture.

From Baraka to Rio Muni
Stories of these expeditions no doubt helped forge the taste for adventure of Paul Belloni du Chaillu, a pupil and protégé of Reverend Leighton Wilson. There is no need for us to recount the explorer's controversial biography, which has been told many times. We will only mention his arrival in Gabon in 1848, at the age of 17, to rejoin a somewhat absent father, and then to find a second family among the American missionaries.
After a visit to Europe and the United States, the young man returned to Africa in 1856 and again stayed at the mission. He planned to travel deeper into the country in search of pygmies and gorillas. In July, he set off for the island of Corisco, and began his journey from Rio Muni to Médouneu, 100 kilometres inland, at the heart of Fang country.
The account of his first trip leaves readers unsatisfied in terms of ethnographic information. The few lines devoted to the subject are disappointing, especially when compared with the wealth of details arising from the explorer's second expedition, undertaken a little later in the country of the "Ashangos", particularly his descriptions of Eshira or Mbuiti idols among the "Ishogo" people. Although he sent back many natural history collections to the Museum of Philadelphia, there is little sign he collected material cultural artefacts, apart from a bow and an associated element, which were given to the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford (1884.16.1 and 2).
While his accounts are now rightly praised, his taste for the sensational – claiming that the Fang people were cannibals, for example – led to him losing credibility in the eyes of the scientific community of the period.

Our man in Baraka
Paul Belloni du Chaillu's main critics were definitely the English. Among them was Robert-Bruce Napoleon Walker, a tax-collector working in Glass near the American mission, who came to Africa in the 1850s to seek his fortune as a representative of the trading company Hatton and Cookson, which had been founded in 1840 in Liverpool.
This colourful, enterprising and controversial figure had the merit of being the father of Abbé André Raponda Walker, the great encyclopedist of Gabon.
Bruce Walker fully deserves his place among the figures to be studied if one is looking for a long-lost Fang reliquary.
In 1862, he presented ethnographic material to the international exhibition in London. It is not known what became of it, nor of other artefacts he sent and that are now unfortunately lost. His interest for the material culture of Gabon led to him bringing back the first Vili mask ever exhibited in Europe. This mask was shown with 46 weapons, everyday objects and skulls on 2 April 1867 to the Anthropological Society of London2, of which he was an active member. The mask was later bought by General Augustus Henry Lane-Fox Pitt Rivers. It was included in the collection in his museum in Oxford (inv. 1884.114.114) with another of the explorer's finds, an important Punu door,
with the centre decorated with a high-relief statue (1884.56.47). The anthropologist Peter Rivière believes that a certain number of objects from Gabon that are not identified in the museum inventories, could also be attributed to him, along with the 150 that are already known to be his.
The English trader's business activities led him to travel all over Gabon, giving him such detailed knowledge that he became a major "tour operator". First, on 10 April 1862, he organised an excursion for Richard Francis Burton, the famous explorer and the first European to see Lake Tanganyika. Leaving Mr Tippet, one of the employees at the "Baraka factory", in charge, Burton, who was then the British consul in Fernando Pó, left Baraka on the schooner Eliza to spend a week with the Fang people2. He noted down his "first impressions" about them in an account that
is both objective and unpretentious.
Bruce Walker then went with Alfred Marche and the Marquis de Compiègne on their 1873 expedition along the River Ogooué, bringing back the first statue of a "Pahouin goddess" to Europe. With great generosity, the merchant put his boats and employees at their disposal, along with supplies and other goods at special rates, and even cheered them up with a dish of foie gras "by Rodel in Bordeaux" at the hardest part of their trip. We can see what
an omnipresent figure the English merchant was in Gabon through the large number of his depots, trading posts and other sites all along the route taken by the two naturalists and explorers, as noted in the two volumes of "Equatorial Africa" .

THE BERLIN CONFERENCE AND A BORDER CONFLICT UNEARTH COLLECTIONS

On the Spanish side
While the Portuguese paid scant attention to their continental possession of Rio Muni (Mbini) and its Fang population, which they finally handed over to the Spanish in 1778 through the Treaty of El Pardo, the Spanish were to make little of it, too. It was only in 1875 that the young Iradier y Bulfy, the founder of the Asociación Eúskara la Exploradora, aged just 14, ventured into the vast lands of the "Pàmue", the Spanish word for the Fang people.
At that time, the Sociedad Espanola de Africanistas y de Colonistas in Madrid, which financed the exhibition, was concerned about the growing number of French trading posts in the region and gave instructions to the young man to take note of their progress. In 1883, the government of Madrid, in turn, sent missionaries, the Claretians of Catalonia, to examine the situation. The missionaries had first settled in Spanish Guinea, and as a result, the mission acquired a few Fang Byeri figures in exchange for the promise of eternal life.
In 1885, the Berlin Conference intensified the worries of the Spanish colonial authorities. By committing themselves to respect the sphere of influence of each power in a given area, the European nations gave de facto approval to a "race" for which the Spanish were not necessarily well equipped. They had little presence in Africa, no regular navigation lines in the area and were not well armed to maintain their fragile positions.
The series of official missions from 1884, and especially in 1885 and 1886, were aimed at strengthening Spanish presence by signing treaties with even minor local chieftains, in the hope that the latter would not change sides at the least encouragement from the opposing party. Doctor Amado Ossorio y Zabala and the governor José Montes de Oca went further in exploring the country, in the footsteps of their young colleague Iradier, and in the process brought together an ethnographic collection of 134 objects described in the Anales de la sociedad espanola de historia natural 
in 1886. On page 336 and 337, we can see two idolo pàmue (N° 129 – inv. 947 today - and 130) described in detail by Don Manuel Anton, the curator at the Museo Nacional de Antropologiã in Madrid, to whom the collection was given.

On the French side
In the late 19th century, the French were also hard at work in Rio Muni.
WIth the help of manufacturers from Roubaix, a merchant named Albert Lesieur set up the Society for Colonial Exploration to assess the business potential of this terra incognita, with its disputed ownership and borders, and set up trading posts there. The project was in line with the  reoccupations of the French colonies ministry, which was keen to consolidate positions before an official mission drew up the borders of a region claimed by Spain. So Lesieur's initiative had the discreet support of the authorities, providing that the alliance treaties signed with local chiefdoms went unchallenged and were approved by two trusted third parties, who needed to be above all suspicion.
Who better than clergymen to accompany the mission? So the apostolic vicariate in Gabon called in the Spiritain priests Tanguy and Henri Trilles, the latter a Fang speaker who had been living for several years in St Marie in Libreville.
In August 1899, the expedition set off from the port of Bata for the River Ntem, the River Dja (Ngoko) and the Ivindo, returning 100 miles further south via the tributaries of the Ogooué and the Como in April 1901. Near the end of the trip, the expedition members learned that politically the adventure had been a waste of time, since a treaty was signed between France and Spain on 27 June 1900.
Les Missions Catholiques magazine published a serial account of the adventure in 1902 and 1903. The narratives of life on the spot written by Father Trilles show his curiosity, his strong commitment to the expedition's political and trading mission, but also the characteristics of an adventurer, of the somewhat trigger-happy son of a soldier.

Christian empathy and charity are far from obvious when, for example, over two columns, he lays into the late explorer Paul Crampel in a far from priestly way!5 After his return to France in 1907, he continued to follow his calling for the Fang culture, becoming an international public speaker, exhibition organiser, writer and ethnology professor. And he literally made a career out of it: in 1902, for an unknown reason he overlooked the museum of his own Spiritain congregation in Chevilly-Larue, and sold a first lot of 99 ethnological pieces to the congregation in Neuchâtel for the sum of 200 gold francs, followed by other artefacts, until 1907. The first lot included the remarkable and famous seeping head that can be seen below in the "ideological" display case at the Universal
Exhibition in Brussels in 1910.

Official boundaries
In June 1901, the French team asked to draw up the official Gabon-Rio Muni boundary showed little interest in ethnic groupings, if we are to believe a book written by a member of the mission, Captain Roche, Au Pays des Pahouins (du Rio Muni au Cameroun). In the opposing camp, however, Dr Ossorio, who knew the area well and was an experienced collector, managed to add to items picked up in 1886 a few idolo pàmue. Four years later, Captain Augustin Cottes, asked to give a firmer footing to the "porous" border separating southern Cameroon - under a short-lived German protectorate - from French Congo, continued his mission into northern Gabon. This part of the colony and southern Cameroon were part of what the explorer, François Mizon, called "a vast area that has been left blank and that will strike anyone looking at a map of Africa".
Dr Gravot6, the doctor accompanying the Cottes expedition, left reliable ethnological accounts about the Fang people living in villages on the River Ntem and River Ivindo, near the Gabon-Cameroon border, while the mission's leader donated 19 objects, including a superb reliquary (cote 71.1908.9.1), and over 200 photos to the Trocadero Museum.

FROM THE BANKS OF THE UTAMBONI TO THE LEFT BANK OF THE SEINE

Paul Belloni du Chaillu, who was celebrating his 25th birthday with some cassava and a saddle of monkey, was far from imagining that a hundred years later, practically to the day, one of the "colossal idols" he had steered well clear of during his visit to the Fang people would be standing majestically on a rosewood plinth next to the Seine.
And yet in 1956, before its temporary move to the provinces, the "Pahouin" reliquary exhibited at the Le Corneur Roudillon gallery was a much treasured item, since pioneers such as Joseph Brummer, Paul Guillaume and Georges de Miré had drawn special attention to this kind of statuette between the wars. After leaving the land of the Ntumu, the journey travelled by this Byeri is a mystery: did it go to Rio Muni or Gabon? Was it newly sprung from the battered trunk of a retired colonial soldier or exchanged with a Catalonian cellarman monk for the price of repairs to the roof of his monastery?
Perhaps Olivier Le Corneur had bought it in his youth, not from "the famous Paul Guillaume, but from the humbler source of old Maurice, a former gendarme selling odds and ends in the back of an umbrella shop in Montparnasse.7"

People would fight over treasures such as this in the galleries run by owners whose names are now a watchword for reliable pedigrees. In contrast to their elders who opted for the right bank of the Seine, the art dealers working with Africa and Oceania opened for business on the left bank, in the "district", the same small area where their successors are now located. In the 1950s, art lovers did not have to tackle a long, risky journey filled with pitfalls to see the "fetishes" in Rue de l’Abbaye, Rue Bonaparte, Rue Guénégaud or Quai Malaquais, where René Rasmussen, Jean Roudillon and Olivier Le Corneur, Félicia Dialossin and André Le Veel opened their premises, while Marie-Ange
Ciokolwska welcomed visitors to her flat in Rue Jacob. The choice was not accidental. Contemporary art galleries chose the vibrant Saint-Germain-des-Prés district in the post-war period and aficionados of the avant-garde were also fans of tribal art. Jeanne Bucher exhibited work by Bissière, Stahly and Hajdu in her gallery in Rue de Seine, but also "stone sculpture from ancient Mexico", as well as "twenty monumental sculptures from New Guinea and New Hebrides", and works by Tobey and Viera da Silva. The "Negro" market was flourishing, helped by sales at
Drouot, enthusiastically organised by the flamboyant Maurice Rheims, with the help of Charles Ratton or Jean Roudillon. Gaston de Havenon and other American buyers and dealers, such as Julius Carlebach and Julius Klejman, were back in Paris, as Olivier Le Corneur confirms: "American art dealers and collectors often had the courage to buy dear before everyone else".
Further afield, practically in the suburbs, at 90 Boulevard Raspail, the Kamers displayed and collected work by the Austrian artist Hundertwasser, while the painters of the second School of Paris, who were all fervent fans of "Negro art", exhibited work close by. Boussard and Païles came round as neighbours when they visited their gallery, at Max Kaganovitch's, at 99 Boulevard Raspail.
Based on an objective alliance, Olivier Le Corneur joined forces with the gallery-owner Jean-Robert Arnaud, at 34 Rue Dufour, to organise the exhibition Analogies in May and June 1957, with examples of "Negro art and contemporary painting". Bavili rhymed with Magnelli, another collector of fetishes, and Baoulé with Martin Barré.

Le Corneur generally set out his artistic vision in Les Amis de L’Art or with Madeleine Rousseau in an issue of "Musée Vivant" in 1948. He explained: "there is a magical analogy between such different forms of art".
Jean-Robert Arnaud was also behind the magazine Cimaise, which quickly became a launchpad for the avant-garde in Paris. From 1957 to 1958, after their joint exhibition, collaboration between the two galleries continued:
Le Corneur wrote an article for Cimaise about his friend, the painter, Jean Deyrolle, and exchanged a full-page advertisement in the magazine for statuettes and masks that were to lay the foundation for Arnaud's collection.
Enthusiasm soon spread to the provinces: exhibitions were organised in Cannes, at the Palais Miramar by Mr and Mrs Kamer in 1957, and then in Pau in 1961. The Parisian art dealers Ratton, Vérité, Rasmussen and others, the collectors André Lhote and Tristan Tzara all had no hesitation in displaying their work side by side with works belonging to local art lovers. In 1956, in St Etienne, in a sign of the times, the curator Maurice Allemand presented The art of black Africa and the 'Negro Period' of some contemporary artists. Le Corneur and Roudillon also took part, lending a Fang bust (N° 124 in the catalogue).
Bertrand Goy

Female bust, byeri ancestor figure (eyema o byeri) Fang, Ntumu Group Atlantic Equatorial Africa, Gabon Wood with thick black patina (seeping in places), brass decoration H. 13.8 in…

Lot n° 31 - Kota reliquary figure, Gabon
H. 18.9 in - W. 9 in

Provenance:
- Collectée par un forestier français en 1935-1936
- Étude Loudmer, Paris, Juin 1991
- Collection privée française
The continual migration of Kota populations led to them keeping their ancestral relics in woven bark or wicker baskets, making them easier to carry. At the top of the basket there was an effigy made of copper- and brass-plated wood that was brought out during the complex initiation ceremonies for young men. Most of the time, however, these baskets with a human figure - or an
Mbulu-ngulu - were kept out of sight from everyone except the most initiated. One should notice the thickness of the sculpture, with its heart-shaped face featuring huge eyes and a small nose under deep brow ridges and the very large forehead divided into two protruding areas (frontal bones?) by a plated ridge. The pendants, crescent-shaped and side parts are well balanced, attractively designed and decorated in a range of traditional patterns. The diamond shape, with the lower part made to be plunged into the basket containing the relics, has been damaged by termites and bears the traces of ritual use. The back is decorated with an attractive, leaf-like pattern, with the central vein pierced by holes where a feather headdress would be inserted. The work has a beautiful patina resulting from its great age.

Kota reliquary figure, Gabon H. 18.9 in W. 9 in Provenance: Collectée par un forestier français en 1935 1936 Étude Loudmer, Paris, Juin 1991 Collection privée française The continu…

Lot n° 35 - Nwantantay Bobo/Bwa plank mask, Burkina-Faso
H. 69.3 in

Provenance:
- Collection privée, New York

Exhibition:
- Wild Spirits, Strong Medicine - African Art and the Wilderness: Center for African Art, New York, 10 mai - 20 août 1989
- Northwestern University, Evanston, 21 septembre
- 22 novembre 1989
- The Lowe Art Museum, The University of Miami, Miami, 14 décembre 1989 - 28 janvier 1990
- The Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, 18 février - 30 avril 1990
- The Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, 15 septembre - 1er décembre 1990

Publication:
- Martha G. Anderson et Christine Mullen Kreamer, Wild Spirits, Strong Medicine - African Art and the Wilderness, Center for African Art, New York, 1989, page 117, n° 71 (à droite)

This large, very fine tji wara artefact shows a sable antelope with an impressive backbone describing a jagged and openwork curve along the animal's neck and mane. The slender head is highly elegant, with its long ears designed in the same style as the long horns that curve backwards and show off the masculine nature of the crest. The body forms a simple trapezium shape with an even, angular base. The simplicity of this element is linked to its being hidden under fabrics and fibres during ritual festivities. To round off the sophisticated composition, a brass veneer decorates the vertical and horizontal strips all over the "face". The majestic, slender and stately character of the work helps set up the dynamic vision of a moving animal, literally dancing before our eyes. Tji wara crests are linked to rites of passage, to the fifth initiatory society, celebrating the fertility of the earth. Bamana mythology recounts how a cereal, and more widely a culture, were given to men by a male sable antelope. This piece can be compared with the ones studied by Dominique Zahan, plates 7 and 8 (especially fig. IM 17) in his famous work.

Nwantantay Bobo/Bwa plank mask, Burkina Faso H. 69.3 in Provenance: Collection privée, New York Exhibition: Wild Spirits, Strong Medicine African Art and the Wilderness: Center for…

Lot n° 36 - Bamana Tji Wara antelope, Mali
H. 44.3 in

Provenance:
- Ancienne collection Gaston de Havenon, New York
- Étude de Quay-Lombrail, Collection Gaston de Havenon, Paris, 30 juin 1994, reproduite sous le lot 12
- Collection privée

Exhibition:
- Antelopes and Queens - Bambara Sculpture from the Western Sudan, The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 17 février - 8 mai 1960
- African Art - The de Havenon Collection, Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, mai 1971
- The Inner Eye: Vision and Transcendence in African Arts, LACMA, 26 février - 9 juillet 2017

Reproduction:
- Robert Goldwater, Bambara sculpture from the Western Sudan, New York, The Museum of Primitive Art, 1960, page 36, n° 48
- Robin Warren, African Art: The de Havenon collection, Washington DC, Museum of African Art, 1971, n° 38
- Tribal Art Magazine, Eté 2017, n° 84, article de Polly et Nooter, The Inner Eye: Vision and Transcendence in African Arts, reproduit sur une photographie d'ensemble de l'exposition, page 88

This large, very fine tji wara artefact shows a sable antelope with an impressive backbone describing a jagged and openwork curve along the animal's neck and mane.
The slender head is highly elegant, with its long ears designed in the same style as the long horns that curve backwards and show off the masculine nature of the crest. The body forms a simple trapezium shape with an even, angular base. The simplicity of this element is linked to its being hidden under fabrics and fibres during ritual festivities.
To round off the sophisticated composition, a brass veneer decorates the vertical and horizontal strips all over the "face". The majestic, slender and stately character of the work helps set up the dynamic vision of a moving animal, literally dancing before our eyes.
Tji wara crests are linked to rites of passage, to the fifth initiatory society, celebrating the fertility of the earth. Bamana mythology recounts how a cereal, and more widely a culture, were given to men by a male sable antelope.
This piece can be compared with the ones studied by Dominique Zahan, plates 7 and 8 (especially fig. IM 17) in his famous work.

Bamana Tji Wara antelope, Mali H. 44.3 in Provenance: Ancienne collection Gaston de Havenon, New York Étude de Quay Lombrail, Collection Gaston de Havenon, Paris, 30 juin 1994, rep…

Lot n° 37 - Important seated man with a snake around the neck, Djenne, Delta of interior Niger, Mali
H. 21.6 in - W. 11.5 in

Provenance:
- Philippe Guimiot, 1985
- Baudouin de Grunne, Bruxelles
- Bernard de Grunne, Bruxelles
- Collection privée

Exhibition:
- Africa: The Art of a Continent, Royal Academy of Arts, Londres, 4 octobre 1995 - 21 janvier 1996
Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin, 1er mars - 1er mai 1996
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, June 7 - September 29, 1996
- The Inner Eye: Vision and Transcendence in African Arts, LACMA, 26 février - 9 juillet 2017

Publication:
- Philippe Guimiot, African Arts, 25,3 (Juillet 1992), 4e de couverture en publicité
- Philippe Guimiot, Arts d'Afrique Noire, 82 (été 1992) 4e de couverture en publicité
- Philippe et al Guimiot, Art et objects tribaux, II, Regards sur une Collection, Philippe Guimiot, Bruxelles, 1995, n°1
- Tom et al Phillips, Africa: The Art of a Continent, London: Royal Academy of Arts, 1995, p. 493, plate 6.4i
- Bernard de Grunne, Djenne - Jeno - 1000 Years of Terracotta Statuary in Mali, Mercatorfonds, Bruxelles, 2014, n°85 (photo inverse). Aussi illustré dans
Chronological Evolution of Djenne - Jeno Sculpture, sans numéro de page The great Djenné-Djenno statues.
A thousand-year-old gift from the River Niger.
The rise of one of the most important ancient urban civilisations around the inner
Niger delta in Mali gave rise to Djenné-Djeno terracotta statuary, one of Africa's most refined artistic styles, which flourished between 700 and 1700 A.D.
I tried to find an appropriate name for this unique artistic style in terracotta statuary in medieval Mali. The name "Djenné", suggested by Jean Laude and Jacqueline Delange, seemed to me too closely linked to the present-day city of Djenné, with its impressive
Great Mosque, the epitome of the tradition of Islamic-influenced Mandé and the prototype for a neo-Sudanese style called the "Djenné style". Since my work on the ground helped show that these terracotta statues were created by a range of different ethnic groups - including the Bozo, Soninke, Sorko, Bobo and Marka - any ethnic attribution is excluded. The style's common denominators are the period (the millennium between 700 and 1700 A.D.), the material used (terracotta and occasionally bronze) and the geographic origin (around the inner Niger delta). I suggested calling this ancient artistic style the "Djenné-Djeno style", in reference to Djenné-Djeno ("Ancient Djenné"), the historic site of the earliest town of Djenné and the precursor of the modern, Islamised Djenné in its current location. This is where four terracotta statuettes and a handful of fragments were unearthed by a team led by the American archaeologists Roderick and Susan McIntosh. Djenné-Djeno sculpture developed in the vast floodplain of the inner Niger delta, which extends for over 160,000 square kilometres and is limited by the mighty River Niger and its tributary, the Bani. This magnificent artistic style is a real "gift of the River"1. Djenné-Djeno civilisation and its art forms are to west African art what the Olmec civilisation, which arose in the marshland around San Lorenzo, is to the history of Mesoamerican art, what the Nile is to Egypt, and what the alluvial plain of the Tigris and the Euphrates is to the great Mesopotamian civilisations in the Middle East. The terracotta statuary of the inner Niger delta is one of the richest and oldest art forms in the history of Sub-Saharan African art. Its only rivals in terms of lifespan are in the artistic cultures of Nigeria, from the Nok civilisation to the civilisations of Ife and Benin. One of the exceptional features of the statuary of the inner Niger delta is the number of ritual postures adopted by the human figures. This variety can only be compared to a single other ancient civilisation, the kingdom of Kongo, with its origins dating back a thousand years.
The artistic styles of Djenné-Djeno are one of the main achievements arising from the conceptual framework of the Mandé oikoumene - a term that is as powerful and varied as its original Greek meaning, where it referred to the known, "civilised" world - with the centre of gravity being the sacred Kamablon building, in southern Mali. This Mandé oikoumene, dating back at least two millennia, gradually developed through wide-scale food production, such as the cultivation of wild rice, in the region of the inner Niger delta. Many ethnic groups belong to the Mandé civilisation: the Soninke, the Sorko, also known as the Bozo, the Bamana or Bambara and of course the Dogon. In the Mandé epic traditions, the spiritual dimensions of the most famous and most celebrated figure among the Soninké people, King Sundiata Keita, are expressed through his occult powers and his ability to communicate with the ancestors through human and animal sacrifice on "objects of power". These "objects of power" are part of the artistic and technological fields of the Mandé blacksmiths and of the rich sculptural traditions using wood, clay, iron and bronze in the initiatory societies developed in the myth. The Djenné-Djeno style is fundamentally humancentred, the prevailing iconography being the representation of human beings, mainly adults (both male and female), with children appearing only occasionally. Its second stylistic feature is the presence of animals, mainly snakes, with rarer appearances by other animals, such as horses, rams, buffaloes and even chameleons.
There is also a small group of composite figures, blending human traits with features belonging to some animal species, and animal traits with the features of imaginary or fantastic creatures not found in nature.
My research in art history and my work on the ground in Mali in 1984-1985, as well as the excavations mainly carried out by the American archaeologists, Roderick and Susan McIntosh, show the long lifespan of this artistic medium of the Mandé, terracotta Djenné-Djeno statues, which were probably created by the Soninké and related ethnic groups and prevailed in the inner Niger delta in central Mali between 700 and 1700 A.D. I have identified at least six different styles in the corpus of Djenné-Djeno sculptures. By "style", I mean a group of formal qualities shared by a certain number of similar objects, probably produced by a single individual or a single workshop. So I reduce style to a way of establishing links between individual works of art. Some of these styles may be considered as respecting a model, while others are unrelated to any standard.
Proto-classical style
Pre-classical style
Classical style I Classical style II Classical style III Mannerist style
The large seated figure, with a spherical head, feline ears, a long torso, bended knees and arms casually resting on the thighs, is the most widespread example of the Pre-classical style. The Pre-classical style is one of my favourites, due to the imposing, monumental quality of the figures, the subtle naturalism of the subjects and their extraordinary presence. I have never been able to locate the geographic origin of this style precisely, which is unique in the corpus. The features of this style include the singular size of the head, which is very small compared with the rest of the body, and may show a possible link with the Proto-classical style. The spherical head has small, protruding, bat-like ears and a lantern-jawed face resembling a monkey's and making the figure look almost like an animal. The posture is generally quite relaxed, giving the impression of great peace, as if these human beings were waiting for something, albeit attentively. Some are holding a small sceptre or fly-whisk. There are three types of hairstyles: some figures are bald; other have hair tied up in a cone at the top of their heads, and still others have long hair falling on their shoulders. They are all wearing a sort of undergarment or short loincloth.
Very often they have large bracelets and one or two rows of necklaces, with the first row made up of one or more round pearls and the second with one or more tube-shaped pearls. Given the stylistic unity that can be found in all the Pre-classical figures, we can imagine that they were produced by the same artist, either for a very important altar or to pay homage to a founding hero and his descendants.
The three Classical styles I, II, and III are the most well-executed and elegant in all the corpus. The finest example of the classical styles is the statue in the Menil Collection in Houston, with its perfect workmanship, refined details and the posture, showing the figure kneeling with arms crossed and hands resting on the shoulders. I have grouped many figures in the Classical style with the following main formal features: an almost naturalist representation of the body, contracted in a kind of tension; the extreme finesse of the clay, which is coated in a reddish slip, conveying the impression of firm skin; the oval shape of the head, with the minutely detailed face; highly varied arm positions; fine shaping of the hands, showing the joints and nails; sometimes, the head is turned or tilted to the side; the presence of snakes sculpted in high-relief on the head, neck, shoulders and back. At least three or four different artists worked in this style.
The large, kneeling Djenné-jeno statue with a snake-like scarf wrapped around the neck, the head slightly turned to the right, the torso covered in parallel dotted-line patterns and the hands resting on the kneecaps is one of the most successful examples of the Classical II style. The pear-shaped head, the precise line of the nose and the protruding eyes, the finesse and homogeneity of the clay and the perfection of the firing make this work a remarkable example of a highly accomplished style.
My work on the ground in the inner Niger delta showed that the terracotta statuary represents the gods of the former inhabitants of this region. Some of the gods are considered as the deified ancestors of famous founding kings and queens of the delta.
These statues were not the work of a single ethnic group, and were adopted by members of any ethnic group that chose to worship them. If this pan-ethnic use is confirmed, one can conclude that this corpus of statues was part of a form of religious worship that was widespread in the inner Niger delta. In this case, although a secondary factor compared with the physical environment of the statues, religion is crucial in determining the artistic style. The statues were worshipped in sanctuaries, which were, according to my sources, the earliest buildings to be constructed when a new village was founded. An important aspect of the rituals involving these statues was human and animal sacrifice, during which worshippers adopted the same posture as the statue in the sanctuary. The fact that people today, who may be the descendants of the statues' creators, still recall certain ritual postures, shows the importance, wide distribution and persistence of this form of worship in the inner Niger delta.
This raises an important issue. Since worshippers adopted a similar posture to the statue of the god they saw in front of them, we might conclude that the aim of these postural prayers for worshippers was to experience the divine in themselves.
The statues were thus sacred images used to bring about a mystical state allowing worshippers to experience the fusion between themselves and their god. We can also suggest that by adopting these postures, they were ritually inviting the god inside the statue to take possession of them. One of the main formal features of these statues - the protruding eyes - may symbolise such states of possession. Another aspect needing to be investigated further in the study of the inner Niger delta is the relationship between hieroglyphs and posture. By adopting certain ritual postures, worshippers in the inner Niger delta created a sacred space around themselves, just as Voodoo worshippers marked out sacred veve symbols on the ground. The symbolic relations between two-dimensional signs and their three-dimensional incarnations such as statues, the sacred dance steps and mystical postures will be included in a new phase of research work.
If, as Marcel Mauss pointed out, the body of man is the first and most natural of his instruments, it is also his first and most natural source of symbols, as well as his main means of communication, not only with his peers, but also with the gods. The sacred postures of the worshippers in the inner Niger delta are like mudras, the symbolic movements of the hands used to "seal" the relations between the worshipper and the divinity in the Buddhist religion. The divine postures of the terrestrial gods in the inner Niger delta are the only signs that have come down to us of a great mystical religion.
Bernard de Grunne

Important seated man with a snake around the neck, Djenne, Delta of interior Niger, Mali H. 21.6 in W. 11.5 in Provenance: Philippe Guimiot, 1985 Baudouin de Grunne, Bruxelles Bern…

Lot n° 38 - Important seated man, Djenne, Delta of interior
Niger, Mali
H. 22.9 in - W. 14.4 in - D. 12.2 in

Provenance:
- Hélène et Philippe Leloup, Paris
- Collection privée

Publication:
- Bernard de Grunne, Djenne - Jeno - 1000 Years of Terracotta
Statuary in Mali, Mercatorfonds, Bruxelles, 2014, n°165
The great Djenné-Djenno statues.
A thousand-year-old gift from the River Niger.

The rise of one of the most important ancient urban civilisations around the inner
Niger delta in Mali gave rise to Djenné-Djeno terracotta statuary, one of Africa's most refined artistic styles, which flourished between 700 and 1700 A.D.
I tried to find an appropriate name for this unique artistic style in terracotta statuary in medieval Mali. The name "Djenné", suggested by Jean Laude and Jacqueline Delange, seemed to me too closely linked to the present-day city of Djenné, with its impressive
Great Mosque, the epitome of the tradition of Islamic-influenced Mandé and the prototype for a neo-Sudanese style called the "Djenné style". Since my work on the ground helped show that these terracotta statues were created by a range of different ethnic groups - including the Bozo, Soninke, Sorko, Bobo and Marka - any ethnic attribution is excluded. The style's common denominators are the period (the millennium between 700 and 1700 A.D.), the material used (terracotta and occasionally bronze) and the geographic origin (around the inner Niger delta). I suggested calling this ancient artistic style the "Djenné-Djeno style", in reference to Djenné-Djeno ("Ancient Djenné"), the historic site of the earliest town of Djenné and the precursor of the modern, Islamised Djenné in its current location. This is where four terracotta statuettes and a handful of fragments were unearthed by a team led by the American archaeologists Roderick and Susan McIntosh. Djenné-Djeno sculpture developed in the vast floodplain of the inner
Niger delta, which extends for over 160,000 square kilometres and is limited by the mighty River Niger and its tributary, the Bani. This magnificent artistic style is a real "gift of the River"1. Djenné-Djeno civilisation and its art forms are to west African art what the Olmec civilisation, which arose in the marshland around San Lorenzo, is to the history of Mesoamerican art, what the Nile is to Egypt, and what the alluvial plain of the Tigris and the Euphrates is to the great Mesopotamian civilisations in the Middle East. The terracotta statuary of the inner Niger delta is one of the richest and oldest art forms in the history of Sub-Saharan African art. Its only rivals in terms of lifespan are in the artistic cultures of Nigeria, from the Nok civilisation to the civilisations of Ife and Benin. One of the exceptional features of the statuary of the inner Niger delta is the number of ritual postures adopted by the human figures. This variety can only be compared to a single other ancient civilisation, the kingdom of Kongo, with its origins dating back a thousand years.
The artistic styles of Djenné-Djeno are one of the main achievements arising from the conceptual framework of the Mandé oikoumene - a term that is as powerful and varied as its original Greek meaning, where it referred to the known, "civilised" world - with the centre of gravity being the sacred Kamablon building, in southern Mali. This Mandé oikoumene, dating back at least two millennia, gradually developed through wide-scale food production, such as the cultivation of wild rice, in the region of the inner Niger delta. Many ethnic groups belong to the Mandé civilisation: the Soninke, the Sorko, also known as the Bozo, the Bamana or Bambara and of course the Dogon. In the Mandé epic traditions, the spiritual dimensions of the most famous and most celebrated figure among the Soninké people, King Sundiata Keita, are expressed through his occult powers and his ability to communicate with the ancestors through human and animal sacrifice on "objects of power". These "objects of power" are part of the artistic and technological fields of the Mandé blacksmiths and of the rich sculptural traditions using wood, clay, iron and bronze in the initiatory societies developed in the myth. The Djenné-Djeno style is fundamentally humancentred, the prevailing iconography being the representation of human beings, mainly adults (both male and female), with children appearing only occasionally. Its second stylistic feature is the presence of animals, mainly snakes, with rarer appearances by other animals, such as horses, rams, buffaloes and even chameleons.
There is also a small group of composite figures, blending human traits with features belonging to some animal species, and animal traits with the features of imaginary or fantastic creatures not found in nature.
My research in art history and my work on the ground in Mali in 1984-1985, as well as the excavations mainly carried out by the American archaeologists, Roderick and Susan McIntosh, show the long lifespan of this artistic medium of the Mandé, terracotta Djenné-Djeno statues, which were probably created by the Soninké and related ethnic groups and prevailed in the inner Niger delta in central Mali between 700 and 1700 A.D. I have identified at least six different styles in the corpus of Djenné-Djeno sculptures. By "style", I mean a group of formal qualities shared by a certain number of similar objects, probably produced by a single individual or a single workshop. So I reduce style to a way of establishing links between individual works of art. Some of these styles may be considered as respecting a model, while others are unrelated to any standard.
Proto-classical style
Pre-classical style
Classical style I Classical style II Classical style III Mannerist style
The large seated figure, with a spherical head, feline ears, a long torso, bended knees and arms casually resting on the thighs, is the most widespread example of the Pre-classical style. The Pre-classical style is one of my favourites, due to the imposing, monumental quality of the figures, the subtle naturalism of the subjects and their extraordinary presence. I have never been able to locate the geographic origin of this style precisely, which is unique in the corpus. The features of this style include the singular size of the head, which is very small compared with the rest of the body, and may show a possible link with the Proto-classical style. The spherical head has small, protruding, bat-like ears and a lantern-jawed face resembling a monkey's and making the figure look almost like an animal. The posture is generally quite relaxed, giving the impression of great peace, as if these human beings were waiting for something, albeit attentively. Some are holding a small sceptre or fly-whisk. There are three types of hairstyles: some figures are bald; other have hair tied up in a cone at the top of their heads, and still others have long hair falling on their shoulders. They are all wearing a sort of undergarment or short loincloth.
Very often they have large bracelets and one or two rows of necklaces, with the first row made up of one or more round pearls and the second with one or more tube-shaped pearls. Given the stylistic unity that can be found in all the Pre-classical figures, we can imagine that they were produced by the same artist, either for a very important altar or to pay homage to a founding hero and his descendants.
The three Classical styles I, II, and III are the most well-executed and elegant in all the corpus. The finest example of the classical styles is the statue in the Menil Collection in Houston, with its perfect workmanship, refined details and the posture, showing the figure kneeling with arms crossed and hands resting on the shoulders. I have grouped many figures in the Classical style with the following main formal features: an almost naturalist representation of the body, contracted in a kind of tension; the extreme finesse of the clay, which is coated in a reddish slip, conveying the impression of firm skin; the oval shape of the head, with the minutely detailed face; highly varied arm positions; fine shaping of the hands, showing the joints and nails; sometimes, the head is turned or tilted to the side; the presence of snakes sculpted in high-relief on the head, neck, shoulders and back. At least three or four different artists worked in this style.
The large, kneeling Djenné-jeno statue with a snake-like scarf wrapped around the neck, the head slightly turned to the right, the torso covered in parallel dotted-line patterns and the hands resting on the kneecaps is one of the most successful examples of the Classical II style. The pear-shaped head, the precise line of the nose and the protruding eyes, the finesse and homogeneity of the clay and the perfection of the firing make this work a remarkable example of a highly accomplished style.
My work on the ground in the inner Niger delta showed that the terracotta statuary represents the gods of the former inhabitants of this region. Some of the gods are considered as the deified ancestors of famous founding kings and queens of the delta.
These statues were not the work of a single ethnic group, and were adopted by members of any ethnic group that chose to worship them. If this pan-ethnic use is confirmed, one can conclude that this corpus of statues was part of a form of religious worship that was widespread in the inner Niger delta. In this case, although a secondary factor compared with the physical environment of the statues, religion is crucial in determining the artistic style. The statues were worshipped in sanctuaries, which were, according to my sources, the earliest buildings to be constructed when a new village was founded. An important aspect of the rituals involving these statues was human and animal sacrifice, during which worshippers adopted the same posture as the statue in the sanctuary. The fact that people today, who may be the descendants of the statues' creators, still recall certain ritual postures, shows the importance, wide distribution and persistence of this form of worship in the inner Niger delta.
This raises an important issue. Since worshippers adopted a similar posture to the statue of the god they saw in front of them, we might conclude that the aim of these postural prayers for worshippers was to experience the divine in themselves.
The statues were thus sacred images used to bring about a mystical state allowing worshippers to experience the fusion between themselves and their god. We can also suggest that by adopting these postures, they were ritually inviting the god inside the statue to take possession of them. One of the main formal features of these statues - the protruding eyes - may symbolise such states of possession. Another aspect needing to be investigated further in the study of the inner Niger delta is the relationship between hieroglyphs and posture. By adopting certain ritual postures, worshippers in the inner Niger delta created a sacred space around themselves, just as Voodoo worshippers marked out sacred veve symbols on the ground. The symbolic relations between two-dimensional signs and their three-dimensional incarnations such as statues, the sacred dance steps and mystical postures will be included in a new phase of research work.
If, as Marcel Mauss pointed out, the body of man is the first and most natural of his instruments, it is also his first and most natural source of symbols, as well as his main means of communication, not only with his peers, but also with the gods. The sacred postures of the worshippers in the inner Niger delta are like mudras, the symbolic movements of the hands used to "seal" the relations between the worshipper and the divinity in the Buddhist religion. The divine postures of the terrestrial gods in the inner Niger delta are the only signs that have come down to us of a great mystical religion.
Bernard de Grunne

Important seated man, Djenne, Delta of interior Niger, Mali H. 22.9 in W. 14.4 in D. 12.2 in Provenance: Hélène et Philippe Leloup, Paris Collection privée Publication: Bernard de …

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