The colourful piece was made in the first half of the 20th century out of glass beads, which were prized by inhabitants of the north-west coast of New Guinea and obtained through trade with Chinese and European merchants. Constructed with cotton and plant fibre, the apron is available for £850 from Dutch dealer Frans Faber.
It is offered as part of Merging Cultures: The impact of trade and travel on Tribal Art, the inaugural online selling exhibition staged by TAL. Running from June 25-August 1, it is the first in a series set to appear on the event’s website. The annual fair was set to take place this autumn but has been postponed until September 2021.
Victoria Rogers, the fair’s new director (see ATG No 2447), said that the online shows are a “chance to approach exhibiting in a new and creative way and really delve into the stories and history that make the art so interesting”.
The virtual events are set to be educational as well as commercial. The first edition focuses on the development of trade routes across Africa and internationally as well as the impact of European imports on tribal communities.
One stand-out object is a wooden Baule mask from the late 19th or early 20th century, which reflects the movement of the Baule people’s movement across Africa. They have ancestry in the Akan tribe but moved west to the Ivory Coast more than two centuries ago. Once settled there, the Baule adopted masking traditions from their neighbours: the Guro, Senufo and Yaure peoples.
This example is offered by David Malik, a specialist in the material culture of central and west Africa, for £6700.