Ethnographica & Tribal Art

This category comprises artefacts and works of art made by indigenous peoples.

It began as a collecting area when anthropologists began acquiring and studying these items in the 19th century. Nowadays works are valued for their craftsmanship and decorative quality as well as for their historical and social interest.

The geographical spread in this sector ranges from Oceanic (Pacific Islands, Australia and New Zealand), African, Native American and South American art. Pre-Columbian works represent a sought-after sector – art from the Americas dating from before the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492.

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Join the Oceanic collecting club

29 August 2022

A selection of Oceanic hardwood clubs and shields has come for sale at Sworders in Essex on November 9-10 as part of the auction of objects from the collection of dealer Jan Ellen Finch (1952-2021) of Finch & Co.

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Vast tribal art collection offered after taking three days to remove from Victorian home

29 August 2022

The Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas sale at Woolley & Wallis on September 21 includes 270 lots from the collection of tribal and pre-Columbian art assembled by Romy Rey of Richmond, Surrey.

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Tribal art: Worlds of opportunity in Paris

29 August 2022

International array of visitors will be strolling the streets during the Parcours des Mondes to peruse and buy tribal art

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London tribal art event back as physical edition

29 August 2022

Tribal Art London returns as an in-person event this year with a roster of more than 20 international exhibitors.

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Shield buyer parries rival bidders

29 August 2022

Aboriginal shields come in two basic types: broad shields used for deflecting projectiles and the narrow, compact parrying shields used in close contact fighting.

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Fresh wave of demand on the cards

08 August 2022

Overseas interest in tribal art and Doulton Lambeth wares fuelled the higher prices at Cuttlestones’ (20% buyer’s premium) Penkridge sale but it was a new outbreak of cardomania which raised temperatures of collectors across England.

Fijian whale ivory hook carving

Pick of the week: Buyer hooked by Fijian whale ivory rarity

16 May 2022

Sperm whale teeth, acquired from mammals that had beached on local reefs, had a deep significance to Fijian society.

Navigational chart

Pick of the week: Taking note of current affairs

09 May 2022

Among the most extraordinary of all navigational charts are the lattice ‘stick maps’ used by Marshall Islanders.

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Seven-foot pole club stretches well beyond estimate to £38,000

25 April 2022

Carved from the heart of the toa or ironwood tree, long pole clubs with scalloped blades (akatara) are associated with Rarotonga and Atiu on the Cook Islands.

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Museums target Cook discoveries at Sloane Street Auctions

18 April 2022

A previously unrecorded family archive relating to Richard Grindall (1751-1820), an able seaman aboard Cook’s Second Voyage, surfaced for sale in London last week with spectacular results.

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Tribal fair hosts online spring edition

18 April 2022

This wooden Nagaland pipe from north-east India is offered at this month’s Tribal Art Fair online. Available from Shropshire dealership Handbury Tribal Art, it comes from a UK private collection and is priced at €750.

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The man behind the tribal mask

04 April 2022

Fang secret society relic comes with long provenance to French colonial governor

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Fang mask helps if you want to keep a secret

07 February 2022

A striking and well-provenanced example of an African mask from the Fang peoples of Gabon is to appear at an auction in the south of France on March 26.

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Inuit amulet is the popular pup choice

17 January 2022

A 19th century sea otter amulet in walrus ivory and baleen fashioned as a mother and her pup sold for £24,000 at Woolley & Wallis (25% buyer’s premium).

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Tribal clubs worth £40,000 amused teenagers as playthings

10 January 2022

“The owner had no idea what they were or what they might be worth. Not a Scooby.”

'Collected Works/ Works Collected'

Exhibition showcases Julian Opie's historic collecting habit

04 January 2022

Curator Maya Binkin discovered Julian Opie’s collecting habit on a visit to his London studio.

 Silver and gilt stag’s head rhyton

New York collector given lifetime ban after four-year antiquities investigation

13 December 2021

One of New York’s most prolific antiquities collectors has surrendered 180 ‘looted’ items from his collection and been barred for life from acquiring antiquities again.

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Join the tribe

27 October 2021

Non-European ethnographic art is a one of the new categories at Fine Arts Paris, represented by Patrick and Ondine Mesdagh from Brussels who will be showing a selection of pieces from four continents.

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Maori pendant boosted by fine notable provenance

18 October 2021

A Maori hei-tiki pendant offered in Cheltenham on September 16 had an old paper label verso stating that it originally belonged to Makoare Te Taonui.

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Standing figure makes bidders sit up and take note

27 September 2021

A rare standing figure from the Yuat River area of Papua New Guinea was the star of the show at a Brussels auction.

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