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    Description

    Tsogo (Gabon)
    Male and Female Cult House Posts
    Wood, pigment, nails; ca. 1940-1960
    Male: Height: 64 ¼ inches Width: 6 ½ inches Depth: 6 inches
    Female: Height: 65 inches Width: 6 inches Depth: 6 inches

    The Tsogo have preserved their ancient traditions more fully than almost any group in Gabon. Essential to these is the Bwiti (or Bwete), which controls commemorative, healing, and divinatory events, and, most centrally, initiations into the vast oral moral, philosophical, and religious lore which give structure to Tsogo life. The ebandza, or cult shrine, located at the village center, is the focus of many of the frequently nocturnal Bwiti rites.
    The plan of the wood and daub constructed ebandza explicitly evokes the human image in its basic male-female duality. Within this comprehensive imagery system, the caryatid lateral entry posts (movenga) form the arms. The colors used on all of the painted components are symbolic: red for blood and life; white for sperm but also the fluid of corpses; and black for death. Within the ebandza the right part is male, the left, female; thus the male column will be installed to the right of the entrance, the female, to the left. The male column represents the first ancestor in human form, called Nzambe-Kana, while the female column represents the first-woman, mother of humanity, Disumba (also, they are representative of the male sun, Nkombe, and the female moon, Ngonde).
    Among the geometric designs on the surfaces of the posts, the prevalent lozenges symbolize "the door of life", i.e., the female sexual organs through which all humans must enter this world. When somewhat elongated, the lozenge represents the canoe which transports the soul of the initiate, from birth to death, along the mythic river of destiny (Moboghwe). (The above is in great part a free adaptation of Dr. Louis Perrois, "Fiche d'étude concernant une paire de poteaux sculptés de maison rituelle ebandza Tsogho". St. Gély-du-Fesc, 20 décembre 2000. I am deeply indebted to Dr. Perois for these insights.)
    In the present movenga, the eyes of both figures are painted brilliant red and are opened by a minute, punched pupil. The differing facial scarifications are also punched in, with that on the chin of the male probably a variant cosmogram with the sun at its center. The necks of both figures have an open horizontal shaft running from side-to-side, with the male opening being a vertical rectangle and the female opening being round. A nail pierces each figure at the center of the sternum.
    While overall condition retains good preservation of detail and much original color (parts frequently ritually repainted), there is, in addition to the usual age cracks and surface abrasion, insect damage: male: at top of head post, back of head, and proper right torso; female: proper left breast and on down torso, proper left hand, foot, and base, as well as at the rear of the top of the head post.

    Provenance:
    Thomas D. Slater, Indianapolis
    Stuart Streuver, Santa Fe
    TAD Tribal Art Design (Taylor A.Dale), Santa Fe,
    Gary Hendershott, Little Rock



    Condition Report*: Condition report available upon request.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2007
    7th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,235

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