A Western Tanzanian shrine ensemble
Lot 2612
A Western Tanzanian shrine ensemble
US$ 12,000 - 15,000
£7,100 - 8,900
Auction Details
Lot Details
A Western Tanzanian shrine ensemble
Tanzania, comprising a calabash with wooden stopper, and “miniature throne”; the former classically rendered, the latter with large well patinated head and intricate inset beaded design at apex. Reverse finely carved in geometric patterns. Numerous beaded danglers.
height 18 1/2in


  • Exhibited:
    Governors State University, IL, 2003
    Krannert Art Museum, IL, 2003
    Belger Art Foundation/University of Missouri-Kansas City, MO, 2004
    Tall Grass Art Association, IL, 2005

    Bourgeois and Rodolitz, REMNANTS OF RITUAL: SELECTIONS FROM THE GELBARD COLLECTION OF AFRICAN ART, Ethnos, New York, 2003, p.55, fig.114

    In Eastern Tanzania a number of related ethnic groups produce calabashes with carved stoppers, to hold oils for personal adornment. In death, these calabashes are in some cases enshrined as a means of honoring the dead, and focusing the powers of the deceased into a tangible point that can be utilized as a charm. In the case of this unusual assemblage, the ancestral charge has been placed upon a miniature stool; imitating the large chairs that titled elders may sit upon, not coincidentally themselves, symbols of lineage. The Gelbard example is a visual reaffirmation of the dignitary in life becoming the ancestor in death. It is possible then, that it is no accident that this grouping appears to be a maternity figure at first glance; indeed the ethnic groups of this region are matrilineal. The heavy patina of use on the calabash and stopper as well as the diversity of surfaces on various parts of the ‘stool’ attest to the age of this set, and care that was lavished upon it.