Fun, fanciful, fantastic…these are just a few of the descriptions clients are proclaiming upon seeing the new “Tribal Artifacts” gallery room now set up at Desert Art Collection. Tribal Artifacts is the name of a new business at Desert Art Collection & Sculpture Garden located on San Luis Rey Avenue at El Paseo in Palm Desert. Here you'll find a vibrant collection of artifacts brought to the United States from the owner’s many trips and expeditions to Africa and other tribal destinations around the world. Most of the pieces are hand carved from a single piece of wood. Each is an authentic old-world piece chosen for its quality and design aesthetic. Some of the pieces you will find throughout the collection have been embellished by artists to enhance their color, style, and design elements.
Ritual and ceremonial masks are an essential feature of the traditional culture and art of the peoples of Sub-Saharan and West Africa. While the specific implications associated to ritual masks widely vary in different cultures, some traits are common to most African cultures: e.g., masks usually have a spiritual and religious meaning and they are used in ritual dances and social and religious events, and a special status is attributed to the artists that create masks and to those that wear them in ceremonies. In most cases, mask-making is an art that is passed on from father to son, along with the knowledge of the symbolic meanings.
Created with qualities usually reserved for sculpture of ritual or religious importance, the doors show an impressive range of styles, all worthy of critical appreciation and with a romantic sense of age and timeless history. Most of the doors are hung as wall pieces, but could be mounted on bases as sculpture.
Vessels & Bowls
The making of pottery in Africa began around the 7th millennium BC and continues to this day in the various regions of the continent. Despite its beauty, African pottery had two draw-backs, it was both fragile and heavy. As a result of this most of the early pieces are becoming harder to find, making them very pricey to own. However, thanks to the many skilled craftspeople, they are still being made and sold to collectors all over the world.
With so many artifacts available to us through the depth of such a rich history of tribes and cultures, we couldn't possibly cover every accessory category. Below is a selection of such items that were simply too beautiful to pass by.
The use of beads in Africa can be traced back at least 12,000 years. The oldest known beads have been found in the Kalahari desert, the Sudan and Libya. The earliest beads were made of eggshell, clay, twigs, stones, ivory and bone - glass beads were introduced later by traders from Europe, India and the Middle East.
Beads were used in various parts of Africa as adornment or works of art. In some African economies they also served as currency. As adornment they were important in defining and identifying someone's status, as well as what tribe or group they belonged to.
Figures & Sculptures
Most African sculpture was historically in wood and other organic materials that have not survived from earlier than at most a few centuries ago; older pottery figures are found from a number of areas.
There is a vast variety of styles, often varying within the same context of origin depending on the use of the object, but wide regional trends are apparent; sculpture is most common among "groups of settled cultivators in the areas drained by the Niger and Congo rivers" in West Africa.
Human & animal figures can be used as free standing sculpture or design objects on shelves.
Chief’s stools from Ghana’s Ashanti tribe are beautifully carved and covered with hammered brass and copper. They are made in a range of styles associated with proverbs and particular social rank or status. Similar to their Kente weaving hierarchy, use of a royal stool design could be bequeathed to non-royals for service to the king or state. This is a typical example (below) of a chief’s stool with elegant abstract sculpture qualities.
Kuba cloth is made by the Kuba people of Central Zaire. This highly developed textile art is found in the form of rectangular ceremonial panels as well as wrap-around skirts comprised of multiple panels. Worn by men and women alike at weddings and ritual dance ceremonies, the skirts can be up to 30 ft. long. The abstract designs characteristic of Kuba textiles fascinated and inspired Henri Matisse, who was an early collector. Other European painters, such as Gustav Klimt and Paul Klee, also collected Kuba cloth, bringing the Kuba emphasis on economy of line, pure form and surface patterning to European moderism.
For more information about Tribal Artifacts call 760/674-9955 or visit the website at www.tribalartifacts.co. Desert Art Collection & Sculpture Garden is located next to the Union Bank at 45-350 San Luis Rey Avenue in Palm Desert’s El Paseo shopping district.