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    Description

    Hausa Bird Decoy Headdress, Northern Nigeria
    Early to mid-20th century

    hide, cloth, string, wood, paint

    Provenance:
    Purchased from Hemingway Gallery, New York, NY

    Height: 20 inches

    Decoys in the form of large bird heads with very long, curved beaks, forehead bulges and long, gracefully curving necks are used by hunters of several northern Nigeria savannah-dwelling peoples, notably the Hausa. The base of the neck broadens to a partial cap-like form so that the decoy can be fitted to the hunter's forehead and bound with a leather or fabric strap. The decoy projects vertically above the hunter when he bends over. The decoy, ("burtu"), usually represents a hornbill. It may be realistically carved out of wood, covered with dark, tightly stretched, sewn-on leather and given metal eyes, as in the present example, or a real hornbill skull and beak, covered with dark, stretched and sewn-on leather may be used.

    The decoy is a pragmatic hunting aid; as he approaches his quarry, the crouching hunter's body is hidden by tall grass or brush so that only the hornbill's head and neck appear. Any noise is associated with the bird, not the hunter, and because the hornbill is harmless to prey animals, the hunter can get close enough for a good shot with bow and arrow.

    However, before major communal hunts ("bago") village hunters and their decoys gather and the village priest conducts ceremonies designed to augment the hunters' powers of identification with prey animals, thus adding an element of supernatural control to an essentially pragmatic object.


    Estimate: $700 - $1,000.

    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.

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2015
    6th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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