Superb and Rare Dogon or Tellem Couple, Mali

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Lot 78
Superb and Rare Dogon or Tellem Couple, Mali

US$ 250,000 - 350,000
€ 220,000 - 310,000

African and Oceanic Art

13 May 2019, 17:00 EDT

New York

Superb and Rare Dogon or Tellem Couple, Mali
heights 21 3/4 and 23 3/4in (55.3 and 60.4cm)

Provenance
Craft Caravan, New York, by 1979
Reginald Groux, Galerie Noire d'Ivoire, Paris, by 1990
Philippe Guimiot, Brussels
American Private Collection, acquired from the above in 1994

Published
Arts-Kunst: Primitifs/Primitive/Primitieve IV, Brussels, 1994. (Advertisement: Philippe Guimiot)
Catalogue of Fischbacher in Paris, November 1990. (Advertisement: Galerie Noire d'Ivoire / Reginald Groux)
African Arts, 1979, XIII, 1, p. 12. (Advertisement: Craft Caravan Inc.)

Exhibited
Arts-Kunst: Primitifs/Primitive/Primitieve IV, Brussels, 22-26 June 1994

Alisa LaGamma notes, "The Dogon conceive of the soul as twin male and female spirits. According to Dogon theories concerning human development, we all come into the world with a single physical being that is accompanied by this bipartite spiritual dimension (Marcel Griaule, Nouvelles Recherches sur la notion de personne chez les Dogons, Journal de psychologie normale et pathologique 40, no. 4. pp. 425-31). An individual's male or female gender is isolated and embraced at the time of circumcision or excision, operations that are believed to remove the female element from males and vise versa. Barbara DeMott (Dogon Masks: A Structural Study of Form and Meaning, Iconography, No. 4, Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1982, p. 151) has suggested that the dynamic of paired opposition or dichotomies that characterizes the balance union of the sexes underlies Dogon social relationships, ritual organizations and sequences, myth, and art.

In the most frequently recounted version of the Dogon myth of origin, the god Amma's first creation is a single destructive being known as the pale fox. This act is followed by the creation of four pairs of beings, or Nommo, who have been described as androgynous couples each embodying sexual equilibrium (ibid., pp. 32-33). Metaphors for social order and creativity, they are associated with introducing to humanity the essential arts of smithing, weaving, and agriculture. The emphasis on dualisms has been articulated extensively in visual forms of expression. On the most basic level, Dogon sculptors generally have emphasized bilateral symmetry as well as juxtapositions of horizontal and vertical elements and of negative and positive space." (Echoing Images - Couples in African Sculpture, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2004, p. 14)

Each figure of slender build in a stoic, upright stance with elongated limbs and torso, the upward arching shoulders parallel with the hips, each rounded head with elongated, horizontal ears as if perched backwards, the mouths with extending jaws, the male with a beard connotated by a serrated jaw line; the female resting her right hand on the head of a smaller figure standing at her front, the male holding a scepter which rests on his right shoulder; each with a light brown, heavily encrusted patina.
Contacts
Superb and Rare Dogon or Tellem Couple, Mali
Superb and Rare Dogon or Tellem Couple, Mali
Superb and Rare Dogon or Tellem Couple, Mali
Superb and Rare Dogon or Tellem Couple, Mali
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