FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Quinn’s Ethnographic Arts Auction on April 21, the next specialty event in its popular collectors’ series, highlights art and relics from some of the world’s greatest cultures and civilizations. The curated selection includes antiques, tribal treasures and ancient art from Asia, Africa and the Americas. Some of the works are “published” examples and many are from distinguished collections.
Among the top lots is a stunning Iraqw (north-central Tanzania) beaded skirt made from natural fibers and animal skins. Iraqi skirts are among the most richly decorated textiles in East Africa. Each creation is unique, reflecting the know-how of each creator and the resources at his disposal. Typically, the skirts consist of four panels of cowhide or goatskin, with thousands of beads attached using a lazy stitch to create the characteristic long stripes and geometric patterns. In historic examples, like the one offered by Quinn’s, the beads are usually white, red, blue, and black, with some accented with yellow. Those made in later decades incorporate other colors, such as light blue and green.
The auction example, which is mounted, framed and estimated at $3,000 to $5,000, comes from the estate of Dr. Giraud V Foster of Baltimore, Maryland. Physician, archaeologist, photographer and world traveler, Dr. Foster was the personal physician of the last king of Yemen, Al Imam Ahmad bin Yahya Hamiddin.
The auction range includes several exceptional masks of African tribal origin. A 20th century Songye Kifwebe mask from the Republic of the Congo is made of wood, feathers, pigments and fibers. An important piece, it measures 46 inches long and 12 inches in diameter. Its provenance includes, most recently, the estate of Marshall and Shirley Jacobs of Germantown, Maryland. It holds the distinction of having been featured in the August issue of American Style magazine. Estimate: $2,000 to $4,000
Also from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a Ngongo Munene copper mask, associated with a Dinga land chief, is said to have been used ceremonially during funerals, commemorations and initiation rites for young boys. “Dinga masks like this very fine example, which was in a private collection in Texas, are extremely rare,” said Corrie Brady, cataloger of ethnographic arts at Quinn. She predicts the mask will sell for between $1,500 and $2,000.
A highlight of the Asian section is an early 20th century gilt bronze temple guardian lion. Native to Thailand, the 13-inch-tall lion has a proud posture and a fearsome expression with bared teeth. From a private collection in Bethesda, Maryland, it is conservatively estimated at $200-400.
Shifting the focus to Central America, two pottery highlights deserve special mention. Both hail from western Mexico and were recently part of the Boeckman Collection of Dallas, Texas. An extremely attractive Colima “melon” vessel, dating from 100 BCE to 200 CE, is surrounded by convex ornaments in the shape of cantaloupes or a similar type of fruit. Measuring 7 inches by 9 7/8 inches, it has an estimate of $300 to $600. A second creation from western Mexico is a pottery and pigment figure of a seated woman with her hands resting on her legs. Hailing from Nayarit, a small state nestled between the forested Sierra Madre Occidental mountains and the Pacific Ocean, the 10½-by-6½-inch figure entered Quinn’s sale with an estimate of $260 to $500.
The Boeckman collection was also the source of several exciting pre-Columbian ceramics from the Moche people of the northern coast of Peru. Three wonderfully crafted, pigment-decorated vessels—each with its own distinctive design—were acquired in 1970 through the Denver Art Museum and were from the May Collection in St. Louis. A 9-inch Moche stirrup vessel in the shape of a man holding a cup dates from 200-500 CE. It is estimated between $400 and $600. Both a 10¾ inch Moche shaman vessel with jaguar headdress, 200-500 CE; and a fine-lined Moche Stirrup Ship depicting scenes of warriors and animal shapes, will cross the auction block with individual pre-sale estimates of $300-$500.
Quinn’s Thursday, April 21, 2022 Ethnographic Arts Auction will begin at 2 p.m. ET. No in-person ground bidding will be available. All bidding will be conducted remotely, either by telephone, absentee, or live over the internet via Quinn’s website, LiveAuctioneers or Invaluable. An open preview (masks required) will be held at the Auction Gallery (360 S. Washington St., Falls Church, VA 22046) from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, April 15; Monday April 18; and Tuesday, April 19. For information on an item in the auction, call Corrie Brady at Quinn’s, 703-532-5632, ext. 572; or email [email protected] Visit Quinn’s online at www.quinnsauction.com.