Tag Archive for: tribal art

Antique Tribal Art Dealers Assn. to host debut online auction Aug. 18

NEW YORK – The Antique Tribal Art Dealers Association (ATADA) has formed a new partnership with Jasper52, a New York company that provides auction marketing and catalog-production services to sellers of high-quality art, antiques and vintage collectibles. The first joint venture teaming ATADA dealers with Jasper52 is a Sunday, August 18 online tribal art auction running exclusively through LiveAuctioneers. The boutique selection of carefully curated cultural art includes jewelry, handcrafted pottery, masks, figures, textiles, weapons, and other high-quality objects.

‘Tony Da Bear,’ San Ildefonso ceramic bear figure of native clay, inlaid turquoise, hsi beads and flint arrowhead; circa 1960s, 5¼ x 7 x 4¼ inches. Estimate: $24,000-$29,000

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Rare, old tribal art comprises Jasper52 auction Aug. 8

Sixty-five lots of premium tribal art from, most from old European collections, are offered in a Jasper52 auction to be conducted Wednesday, Aug. 8. Carved out in this treasury are masks, figures and other objects integral to traditional ceremonies from tribes around the world.

Fali betrothal doll with long draperies of beads. Estimate: $1,000-$1,500. Jasper52 image

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Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Pre-Columbian terra-cotta featured in tribal art auction July 5

The current Jasper52 auction titled Premium Tribal Art offers more than 200 lots of figures and masks integral to traditional ceremonies of cultures from around the globe. Many of the top objects in the July 5 auction are pottery that originated in the pre-Columbian cultures of Central and South America where societies flourished before the arrival of Spanish explorers.

William Jennings Bryan and Adlai Stevenson 1900 portrait campaign flag, 6¼ x 13 in. Estimate: $1,800-$2,000. Jasper52 image

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Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Vintage tribal art from faraway lands offered in May 30 auction

Tribal art from around the globe is presented in a Jasper52 online auction on Wednesday, May 30. Carved masks and figures imbued with stylized detail and potent symbolism – more than 100 items – are offered in the online auction catalog.

Shango staff, Yoruba, Nigeria, pre-1930, 22.8 in. high. Estimate: $7,000-$7,500. Jasper52 image

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Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Time-honored tribal art offered in online auction March 14

Carved tribal art from Africa and around the globe is the focus of a Jasper52 online auction on Wednesday, March 14. A collection of nearly 100 vintage masks, sculptures and similar articles will be sold. The objects in this auction are imbued with stylized detail and tremendous depth of meaning.

Ci wara Bambara Bamana mask, Mali, pre-1920. Estimate: $6,500-$7,000. Jasper52 image

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Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

The Many Facets of African Tribal Art in One Collection

Out of Africa comes this collection of masks and figures integral to traditional tribal ceremonies. Imbued with stylized detail and tremendous depth of meaning, these handcrafted items enchant collectors worldwide.

Carved out in this collection are masks and figures integral to traditional ceremonies from tribes around the world. Given their geometrics designs, it is no wonder these artifacts are widely exhibited alongside modern sculptures.

The Dogon people, who dwell in the central plateau region of Mali, in western Africa, are known for their wooden sculpture and architecture. Two door locks in the collection represent a combination of the two. The more detailed of the two is made of wood and metal and depicts a primordial couple. It was acquired in situ by Jerry Vogel of New York City, who was a longtime associate for the Museum for African Art.

Door lock depicting primordial couple, Dogon people, Mali, 15in tall with base. Ex collection Jerry Vogel, New York City. Wood, metal and ritual substance. Estimate: $2,200-$2,400. Jasper52 image


More than a dozen masks are in this collection. One of the most dramatic is a polychrome mask from the Igala people of Nigeria. Carved of medium-density wood, this mask shows much evidence of having years of use. A custom mount is also included.

Polychrome mask; Igala people, Nigeria, wood with earth pigments. Well oxidized older mask of medium density wood. Estimate: $1,500-$1,700. Jasper52 image


Just as visually arresting is an Atwonzen beaded head by the Bamileke people of Grassfields, Cameroon. This item made of fiber and glass beads is from the fabled Merton D. Simpson collection.

Beaded head Atwonzen, Bamileke people, Grassfields, Cameroon, 6in high, fiber and glass beads. Estimate: $1,200-$1,400. Jasper52 image


An unusual decoy used by hunters in the grasslands of northeast Nigeria and southwest Niger represents the often-encountered Abyssinian ground hornbill. Hunters wore such decoys on their heads to mask their approach to antelope, buffalo and other game.

Hunter’s decoy, various peoples, northeast Nigeria, southwest Niger, 18in tall. Estimate: $1,200-$1,400. Jasper52 image


An anthropomorphic pipe from the Mangbetu people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo represents a bearded man. From a New York City private collection, this pipe was acquired in Belgium before 1974.

Anthropomorphic pipe, Mangbetu people, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 9 1/2in long. Estimate: $2,200-$2,400. Jasper52 image


The piece with the highest estimated value in this collection is a Tampulma or Vagala mask made of wood and decorated with indigenous pigments.

Vagala or Tampulma mask. Estimate: $2,400-$2,600. Jasper52 image

Additional items in this collection include knives, tribal currency and sculpture. Explore these treasures here.

The Basics of Collecting Tribal Art

Tribal art appeals to many people, often for different reasons. Perhaps it is a historic or ancestral interest that fuels one’s fascination. Or perhaps it’s just the aesthetic appeal of tribal artworks that inspires a new collector to enter the field.

With interest in tribal art continuing to grow, and interesting pieces coming to auction regularly, opportunities to discover and acquire meaningful objects are definitely available. To help lay the framework for this fascinating subject, we turn to one of the foremost auction houses specializing in tribal art – Artemis Gallery in Boulder County, Colorado.

Bob Dodge and his wife, Teresa, co-founded and serve as joint executive directors of Artemis Gallery, one of the world’s most respected names in tribal and ethnographic art and antiquities. Bob graciously shared information about what constitutes tribal art and offered authoritative advice on how to start or expand on a collection.

Native American bird effigy bowl carved by the Mound Builder culture of North America from a single piece of stone, circa 500 to 1200 CE. Artemis Gallery image

What is your definition of tribal art?

To us, tribal art is the sum total of the visual arts of indigenous (sometimes referred to as ethnographic) peoples from around the globe.

How are tribal art and antiquities most often categorized? Is it by region or type of item? How can this knowledge aid potential collectors?

Tribal arts, like antiquities, are most commonly categorized according to region, however there are many other ways of categorizing them. Some more common ones can be material, purpose (mask, fetish, votive, offering, ceremonial, etc.), time period, or others. This can certainly aid a potential collector by putting items into meaningful and searchable groups.

Information is perhaps the single most important element of any collecting passion. So, having the ability to find information about legality, availability, value and authenticity can be critical.

What are some of the more common types of tribal art coming to auction, and what are  some of the rarest pieces you’ve handled?

By far the most common form of tribal art on the market would be African wooden masks and figures. By most estimates, I think you could find well over a million examples, with most of them having been created for the tourist trade. Some of the rarest – and at times the most macabre – items we have seen and handled include decorated human skulls created by tribal groups in the South Pacific, Maori jade Tiki figures, and early Australian aboriginal art and artifacts such as throwing sticks and boomerangs.

Circa mid-20th century carved wood figure, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kuba peoples. Artemis Gallery image

Are certain types of tribal art (bowls, figures, masks, etc.) more specific to a region of the world?

Yes, art by region can be pretty specific and pretty common. Masks from Africa, ancestor figures from Papua New Guinea, large bowls and vessels from the Amazonian tribes, decorated bowls from the American Southwest – all would be examples of regional art.

How has the tribal art market changed during recent years?

The Internet has been a major game-changer for the tribal art market, including the antiquities trade. Dealers in the past were pretty much able to set their own prices depending upon the wealth of their client base. The law of supply and demand was almost irrelevant, because nobody could track either side of the equation.

The Internet has allowed collectors to shop virtually worldwide and see what prices other dealers are asking, as well as easily look at prices realized by major and minor auction houses. The Internet has opened literally hundreds, if not thousands of sources for good material.

Face maskette made of dark greenstone with light green and russet striated inclusions, Pre-Columbian, Mexico, Guerro, Mezcala, circa 500 to 200 BCE. Artemis Gallery image

What would you say to a collector who is interested in acquiring tribal art but wonders about affordability?

A new collector of tribal art has so many options available to them that price should not be a deterrent. I am a collector of ancient art, first and foremost, and a dealer secondarily. I have been able to find wonderful buys at prices even below $100. If someone has a passion for the arts, money should not slow them down in the slightest.

How about potential collectors who may be concerned about legal disputes over rightful ownership of tribal items – what advice might you be able to share?

The laws of cultural patrimony are complicated and confusing. The basics are that if a cultural item has been in the U.S. for more than 20 years, the buyer and seller are safe. Any collector, new or old, should ask for specific information about when an item was acquired, and when it left its country of origin. Then, make sure that information is conveyed in writing on any sales transaction.

Pre-Columbian gilded gold mask, Sican-Chimu culture of North Coast Peru, circa 800-1000 CE. Artemis Gallery image

Can you please describe the TL testing process, and the important role the Artemis testing lab serves?

TL testing (thermoluminescence) is one of many tools available to determine the authenticity of an item that is ceramic or made of terracotta pottery. It takes tiny bits of the pottery, done by drilling very small holes into unobtrusive areas, and subjects the samples to an analysis that ascertains how much stored light radiation is in that object. We can then graph the amount of this stored energy to determine when the pottery item was last subjected to high heat, and therefore created. By developing a commercial lab here in the United States, we are able to help collectors and dealers alike in selling authentic objects with scientific analysis as the proof.

What are three items of advice you have for anyone who wishes to start a collection of tribal art?

  1. Be passionate about your collection. Buy what you love, not what you think makes a good investment.
  2. Be skeptical. Go into every transaction assuming the pieces may not be authentic and requires proof to the contrary. Believe the piece, not the story behind it. Stories can be faked, and often are, but the piece itself will usually lead you to the truth.
  3. Be diligent when amassing your collection. Record every aspect about each piece – especially its history, provenance and details of your purchase. That way you will have a solid record should you ever wish to sell, or should your family pick up the collecting bug.

How would you complete this sentence: Tribal art represents…

A way of connecting to peoples who are or were in many respects just like us, and yet, are or were simultaneously so very different. Tribal art expands our ability to appreciate others as well as ourselves.

About Artemis Gallery:

Since 1993, Bob and Teresa Dodge have headquartered their thriving global business at Artemis Gallery in Boulder, Colorado. They are known for their online auctions of highest-quality antiquities, ancient and ethnographic art, offering a 100% guarantee of authenticity and legality on each and every piece they sell. The company specializes in pottery, stone, metal, wood, glass and textile objects from South America, Central America and Mexico, as well as artifacts from Greece, Italy, Rome, Egypt, the Middle East, China, India, Japan and the South Pacific.

The Many Faces of Tribal Art in One Collection

Let’s go on an adventure to explore this newly curated collection of Tribal Art. Carved out in this collection of tribal art are masks and figures integral to traditional African ceremonies. Imbued with stylized detail and tremendous depth of meaning, handcrafted African, Native American and Pre-Columbian pieces enchant collectors worldwide.

Among the cross-continental highlights are a large Songye cat mask from the Congo, which may have been used for hunting rituals, and a Baule mother and a child carved group from the Ivory Coast. The antique piece represents the fine carving skill frequently seen in Baule art.

LEFT: Antique Songye cat mask, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Estimate: $5,000-$7,000
RIGHT: Finely carved Baule mother and child, Ivory Coast. Estimate $8,000-$9,000. Jasper52 images

A traditional Nimba figure by the Baga people of Guinea is said to symbolize ideas of beauty, comportment, righteousness, dignity, and social duty. Nimba figures like this inspired the paintings of Pablo Picasso.

Traditional Nimba figure, Baga, Guinea. Wood with metal details. Estimate $14,000-$15,000. Jasper52 image

Moving to the Western Hemisphere, a highlight in this collection is a beautiful black-on-black pottery bowl by Maria Martinez from the peak of her career. Maria Martinez (1887-1980) was a Native American artist internationally known for her pottery work, and created pieces to reflect the Pueblo people’s legacy of fine artwork and crafts.

Signed Maria Martinez black-on-black pottery bowl, 1943-54. Estimate: $900-$1,000. Jasper52 image

Navajo woven items are also highlighted in this 119-lot collection, starting with a transitional rug, circa 1890.

Transitional Navajo rug, circa 1890, 60in x 84in. Estimate $4,000-$6,000. Jasper52 image

Another large Navajo rug in this eclectic collection dates to around 1910.

Navajo rug, circa 1910, 82in x 55in. Estimate $3,000-$4,000. Jasper52 image

Given their geometric volumes, it is no wonder that African, Native American and Pre-Columbian artifacts are widely exhibited alongside modern sculptures.

View the full collection of Tribal Art presented by Jasper52 here.



Tribal Masks Embody October 2nd African Art Auction

The upcoming October 2nd African art auction is composed of more than 40 tribal masks and complemented by related items. Carved out in this collection are masks and objects integral to traditional African ceremonies. Imbued with stylized detail and tremendous depth of meaning, handcrafted African pieces are widely exhibited alongside modern sculptures.

An evocative mask of the Pende people bears a resemblance to Edvard Munch’s iconic The Scream paintings. Pende masks were used during rituals involving initiation and education.

Pende mask, carved wood, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 15 x 8 1/2 inches. Estimate: $200-$300

Pende mask, carved wood, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 15 x 8 1/2 inches. Estimate: $200-$300

Another eerie mask is by the Songye people, also from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They have long been considered superior artisans best known for their pottery and metalwork.

Songye carved wood mask, 8 1/2 x 8 3/4 inches. Estimate: $400-$500

Songye carved wood mask, 8 1/2 x 8 3/4 inches. Estimate: $400-$500

The Lega people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo use masks as vital initiation objects that enforce social order. One of their masks in the auction has a Close Encounters look to it.

Lega carved wood mask, 11 1/2 x 8 4/4 inches. Estimate: $300-$400

Lega carved wood mask, 11 1/2 x 8 4/4 inches. Estimate: $300-$400

Yoruba priests in Nigeria enlist the aid of Osanyin, the spirit of herbal medicines. Osanyin healing staffs were used to ward off the spirits that would “drain the life force out of people” thus making them ill. This healing staff, the opening lot in the sale, dates to the 19th or 20th century.

Yoruba Osanyin bird healing staff. Estimate: $400-$600

Yoruba Osanyin bird healing staff. Estimate: $400-$600

Yoruba healers wear masks to drive away evil spirits. The Yoruba people also use masks during funerary ceremonies to embody the spirit of the deceased.

Yoruba carved wood mask, 14 x 8 1/2 inches. Estimate: $200-$300

Yoruba carved wood mask, 14 x 8 1/2 inches. Estimate: $200-$300