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African Art / Works from the Swiss collection of Walter Schwab

Wednesday 13 October 2021, 05:00 PM • Milan


SENUFO Ivory Coast, region of Korhogo


€ 16.000 - 20.000

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Male sculpture: 74cm tall. Female figure: 72cm tall
Pair of figures

Hardwood with a dark, glossy patina.
According to an ancient Senufo tradition, these two characters represent the image of the forest’s spirit protectors. The body, which has no feet, is supported by a hemispherical base. These works are rare and the style is similar to the famous pair from Samuel Dubiner’s collection. It is likely that this pair of sculptures were preserved as part of a shrine, covered by a piece of protective fabric.The wood has been carefully polished with abrasive leaves to smoothen the surfaces, on which residues of a light dust are still present.Carved copper disks are nailed into the base of the female sculpture.Some reference images have been sculpted on top of the dance helmets used by those belonging to “Lo” society, a sect that regulated the social and religious life of the entire Senufo people. The dance helmets, which emerged together with the famous Deble sculptures, were worn during the funerals of important figures in the community. The rarity of these helmets is suggested not just by the few sculptures we know of, but also by their purpose, as they were only used for a “grand funeral” that the whole community would attend to commemorate all their deceased ancestors of the past 4 or 5 years.These sculptures are very abstract in nature, with only the face showing a certain similarity to the tradition of Senufo works. The structure of the body, with the spiral neck and the absence of arms, is very rare in Senufo statue work. This style is echoed in some Déguélé dance helmets, which also come from the region of Korhogo. They would have been crafted by the Kiembara subgroup, who worked in the community of Fodombélé. The rooster-crest hairstyle suggests a reference to “the sacred bird of the souls”.


Collezione privata (1993);


FRIEDMAN MIRIAM "African art: Collection Samuel Dubiner" Tel Aviv Museum 1960, n° 25 (455);
FRASER DOUGLAS "Arte Primitiva" Editore Il Saggiatore, Milan 1962, page 96 (26);
GOLDWATER ROBERT “Senufo sculpture from West Africa” New York 1964, pag. 21 and figure 84 (1081);
VARIOUS AUTHORS “The Art of a Continent” Tom Phillips Publishers, Jonn Picton, London 1995, notes from Timothy Garrard on pag. 454 (853);
DERBIER ALAIN "Arte e Cultura Africana: Il Museo SMA di Lione" Publication from the Società Missioni Africane (Society of African Missions), Genoa, January-March 2002, n° 53 (696);
MEYER LAURE “Black Africa: Masks, Sculpture, Jewelry”, Paris 2001, pag. 102 e 103 (773);
FISCHER EBERHARD & HOMBERGER LORENZ “Les Maitres de la sculpture de Cote d’Ivoire” Musée du Quai Branly Paris 2015, pag. 159 – 167 (870);
HAHNER-HERZOG IRIS & KECSKESI MARIA & VAJDA LASZLO "L'Autre Visage: Masques africains de la collection Barbier-Mueller" Geneva 1997, pag. 64 (605);

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Condition report

To request a Condition Report, please contact The department will provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Please note that what Finarte declares with respect to the state of conservation of the objects corresponds only to a qualified opinion and that we are not professional conservators or restorers. We urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. We always suggest prospective buyers to inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition during the exhibition days as indicated in the catalog.