African Art: a prestigious Swiss collection

Milan, Wednesday 14 October 2020


Dan, Man region (Ivory Coast)

Wood with shiny black coating
H 57 cm

Female figure-shaped spoon.
This sculpture is a perfect mix between balance and fantasy. A concave piece gives the idea of a human head, supported by a stylised body with no arms. The sizeable bosom and pronounced navel, well-shaped and well-finished legs complete the figure. Rings given emphasis adorn the whole body. For the brilliant use of such spoons by African sculptors, these works are now an organic art collection exhibited in the most important museums in the world.

Sold € 14.760,00

  • Add to favorite lots


- George F. Keller antique collection (Bern) (Inv. G.F.K. 36);
- Former Paolo Morigi collection (Lugano);
- Former private collection (Lugano);


- Bern 1980, Musée des Beaux Arts;
- Lugano 2002, Palazzo Riva, Banca Svizzera Italiana (BSI);


Reproduced in:
- MORIGI PAOLO “Raccolta di un amatore d’arte primitiva”, Magliaso, Lugano & Kunstmuseum Bern, Switzerland 1980, fig. 120, page 117;
- VENTURI LUCA M. “Anime antiche, arte negra, da una raccolta di sculture dell’Africa occidentale” BSI Bank, Lugano 2002, fig. 15;>

- FISCHER EBERHARD & HIMMELHEBER HANS “Die Kunst der Dan” Rietberg Museum Zurich 1976, pages 156 - 168;
- FALGAYRETTES CHRISTIANE “Cuillers Sculptures”, Dapper Foundation, Paris 1991, pages 72 - 88;

The Dan, Baulé, Guro, Senufo, Koulango, etc. groups, who live in the sub-tropical savanna in the Ivory Coast, Liberia and Guinea, developed an economy of subsistence based on the harvesting of grains and rice. Their sculptors created unique spoons with original shapes. Some of them are true works of art just for the genius way they were made. For such groups, the spoon became an object of worship used during ceremonies throughout the year to bring about the fertility of the fields or to celebrate the harvest. For Dan people, for instance, a group of farmers living in the forest in the north-east of Liberia and the bordering regions of Ivory Coast and Guinea, the spoon was an object that belonged to the old women of the group. They used it during the collective harvesting of rice to throw the first portion obtained over the people present for the event. Farming was seen as a female activity and these large spoons belong to magnanimous and generous women able to feed and welcome to their table a whole area or village. They grow rice and work hard in the fields together with other female companions and, after intensely working the fields, they achieve a large harvest.Such wooden spoons are for women what masks are for men; the manifestation of spirits who allow particular individuals to hold a precise role in their tribal society.


African Art

Via Paolo Sarpi, 6 - milano
Phone: 02 3363801