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    Description

    DAN-GUERE, Ivory Coast
    Spoon

    Wood

    Large ceremonial scoop-like wood spoons with human or animal head handles are used at harvests and feasts accompanying masquerades. An older respected woman is chosen by her peers to carry the title and duties of "the most hospitable woman of the village" and awarded a large spoon like the present example, from which she dispenses cooked rice mixed with coins to village inhabitants while dancing and singing. She is accompanied by numerous assistants, who are usually female relatives and friends, and she may also wear men's clothing, "because only men are taken seriously." The food and coins are from her own stores and typify the care and generosity she has shown to all village people and even strangers throughout the year, as she has played a leading role in village life.

    Guere spoons, in common with those of other Dan complex groups, may have a handle in the form of a sheep, goat or cow's head to symbolize an animal from her own herds given to the feast, or, as in the present example, the handle may feature a human female head to typify the generous, life-supporting nature of women in general and of the spoon owner in particular. The head is a "portrait" of the spoon owner, while the spoon bowl is "pregnant" not with a child but with sustenance for the whole village. Limbs projecting upward below the chin of the female head probably represent arms outstretched in giving, a rare feature in Guere spoons. The face is carved with attention to detail, including the addition of little metal teeth between parted lips. A rich, shiny brown patina indicates use and handling.

    Provenance:
    From the Estate of Liz Claiborne and Arthur Ortenberg

    Sotheby's, Important Tribal Art, May 5, 1997, lot 257
    Gallery Wyss, Basel, 1989

    Exhibited:
    Spoons in African Art, Rietberg Museum, Zurich, 1991, alternative catalogue

    Height: 16 inches


    Condition Report*: Condition report available upon request.
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    Auction Dates
    December, 2016
    13th Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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