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Lot 278, Auction 5/30/2017: Early 20th C. East African Wood Colonial Figure

East Africa, probably Tanzania, ca. early 20th century CE. A standing colonial figure, carved of dark, hard wood. The figure has a large head with emphasized ears and delicate facial features. It stands with its hands held close together at the waist, the only decoration a belt carved in relief. It is unclear if the figure is male or female, although style of dress suggests male. Comes with custom stand. Size: 5.8" W x 17" H (14.7 cm x 43.2 cm); 18" (45.7 cm).

The colonial figure style is a native depiction of the Europeans. At this point, the indigenous people had been both in contact with Europeans and under their political rule for decades. Tanzania and its modern neighbors like Kenya were part of German East Africa from 1890 and later part of the British Empire after Germany ceded much of its African territory following defeat in WWI. These colonial figures are often lighthearted and take on European styles of dress. Sometimes they were placed outside a traditional medicine healers' place of business to advertise that their services were so wonderful that even the Europeans flocked to use them.

Condition: Loss to front of one foot; losses around the belt area (which seems to have been more elaborate when originally carved). Dark patina on wood.

Provenance: Ex-Adeon Gallery, Chicago, IL, acquired prior to 1970.

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