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    Description

    LAGOONS AKAN, Ivory Coast
    Post Figure

    Wood, pigments

    About a dozen small Akan groups live along or near the southeastern shoreline of the Ivory Coast. They include the Abure, Adiukru, Agni (Anyi), Akye, Aizi, Aladyan, Attie, Avikam, Ebrie, Gwa, and Nzima. Some of them have moved from their traditional territory while others have been almost obliterated by the expansion of Abidjan, the capital city. Their customs and artistic styles often overlap, while carvers in search of commissions have had a tendency to cross ethnic and linguistic borders, blurring stylistic norms in the arts. Much traditional art was discarded or destroyed around 1920 by iconoclastic Christian converts, making the accurate attribution of older artworks to a specific Akan group unsure and an understanding of functions tenuous. As a result, the general term "Lagoons Akan" for these older works has become customary.

    The present sculpture is a decoratively carved post topped by a standing male figure wearing a loincloth. The pad-like object on top of his head may refer to a hairstyle. Slender arms are bent at the elbows and open hands laid, palms up, one on top of the other, in front of the torso. On the figure's chest, back and thigh are round holes of unknown use. One on the upper right thigh has been neatly filled in. Right in front of the figure's feet is a protruding structure with three deeply cut holes; a central circular one is flanked by two rectangular ones of unequal sizes. The entire piece bears an encrusted black surface, under which, especially around the figure's feet, are traces of white pigment. Eyes have been painted white. The lower part of the figure and the post bear a reddish earth deposit.

    In 1851-52, a French military officer sketched two such figural posts bearing female figures and in the early 20th century examples of post figures, about half life-size, were kept in the homes of community leaders or placed along public pathways. There is some tradition of blood sacrifice to clan deities on decorated posts, and it may be that the figures are self-portraits of the men who commissioned them. Those that survived then functioned in ancestral rites observed by descendants. Their association with the supernatural may have caused their destruction by Christian converts in the early 20th century.

    It may well be that the present post figure is a very rare survivor of this lost tradition, and that the three carved depressions in front of its feet were intended to receive material sacrificed to the ancestral spirit represented.

    Provenance:
    The Robert V. Berg Collection

    Read more about the Robert V. Berg Collection here.



    Height: 42 inches

    Literature:
    Visiona, M. B., Constructing African Art Histories for the Lagoons of Cote d'Ivoire, Ashgate, 2010, pp. 79 - 81.

    Visiona, M. B., "Female Figural Post, Lagoons Peoples, Ivory Coast," in Sotheby's New York: The Collection of Allan Stone, Vol. 1. Nov. 15, 2013, Lot 56.




    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 Dates
    July, 2016
    8th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
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