|EXAMPLES BELOW ARE NOT IN MY COLLECTION - THEY ARE FOR REFERENCE PURPOSES ONLY
|Sotheby's - New York
African & Oceanic Art
Auction Date : Nov 11, 2005
Lot 32 : A RARE AND MAGNIFICENT BAGA MALE DRUM
PROPERTY FROM THE JEFFREY SWANSON COLLECTION
height 65 1/2 in. 160cm; diameter of the drum 24in. 61cm
timba, of large proportions and carved in four tiers from a single piece of wood, the circular base supporting an openwork, geometric architectural
structure, beneath four elaborately carved alternating male and female seated caryatid figures, the females wearing a cache-sexe, armbands and a
necklace, the males wearing colonial dress, each with hands raised and supporting the disc-like base of the drum, the drum with a hide tympanum secured
with pegs at the edges, of hollowed tapering form and carved in low relief at the perimeter in alternating squares of two-part and four-part motifs above a
saucer-like support with foliate designs and a waisted base; fine layered and aged surface in black, white, green, red and yellow pigment.
Baltimore, Maryland, The Baltimore Museum of Art, Temporary Loan Exhibition, 1997-2000
Lamp, Art of the Baga: A Drama of Cultural Reinvention, 1996: 189, figure 181 catalogue of the exhibition, The Museum for African Art, New York, October
4, 1996-January 5, 1997 (see bibliography for additional venues)
Binkley, De Carbo, Kraemer, Making the Grade: African Arts of Initiation, 2001: figure 3 catalogue for the exhibition, Washington, D.C., The National
Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, November 11, 2001-October 27, 2002
The National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, brochure cover, January, February, March, 2002
This magnificently conceived drum was used exclusively by adult Baga males of high ritual standing, primarily in male initiation ceremonies called
kä-bërë-Tshol or 'entering the medicine'. We can suggest a date of carving in the late 19th century or early 20th century as the kä-bërë-Tshol ceased to
exist amongst the Baga before 1950 as a result of conversion to Islam. The male drum is called timba, while its female counterpart is known as a-ndëf,
used exclusively for female initiation ceremonies (see Sothebys, New York, November 29, 1984, lot 167 for a related drum depicting two female figures).
The use of the timba was restricted to men. Beliefs about the drum operated on a number of levels: the drum was a tool that underscored the primacy of
male social institutions and their political power in an adult world. For Baga men, indeed, the main ritual occupation was the control of initiation into
adulthood, immersion in esoteric knowledge of the sacred, and the use of restricted paraphernalia. While the timba was primarily used in initiation
ceremonies, it also made appearances at weddings, funerals of high-ranking male elders and sacrifices to the ancestors, especially after the harvest. In
these contexts, the power of men was asserted through the appearance of the drum. The drums were so tall that they could be played only by standing on
a stool (see Lamp 1996:119 for a photograph illustrating this use).
Visually, the iconography of the timba, according to Lamp (1996:120), contributed to the aura of authority that the adult men constructed. The standard
form of timba drums is a hollowed barrel atop a figurative substructure. The caryatid took the form of a Nimba headdress, horses and other animals, birds
or abstract designs. On the Swanson drum the artist has carved figures in colonial dress and indigenous dress. The figures encircle an architectural scene
reminiscent of early colonnaded ecclesiastical buildings erected by the French in Guinea in the 19th century. Compare the architectural model on the
Swanson drum with the form of The Résidence Episcopal, Les Pères du Saint-Esprit, Conakry, one the first two story buildings in Conakry erected by the
Catholic Church (Lamp 1996: 188, figure 180). This building, and indeed the repetition of the form on the drum had widespread symbolic impact--surely a
commentary on the new spiritual and economic connections the presence of the Catholic church and the French brought to this area of Guinea at the end
of the 19th century.
A drum was one of the most important commissions an artist could receive in Baga society. The layering of meaning and dynamic carving on the Swanson
drum is typical of the considerable bravado and creativity on the large drums. The Swanson drum, carved from a single piece of wood, is clearly the work
of a master carver in its bold proportions and fully three-dimensional execution. Fred Lamp (personal correspondence) knows of only 13 large timba drums
in existence, and only one other in a private collection. See for comparison, Lamp (1996: 182, figure 172) for a non-figurative drum in the collection of the
Musée des Arts d'Afrique et d'Oceanie, Paris; ibid. (119, figures 92 and 93) for another in the collection of the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto and
another being played in situ in Katako village from a photo circa 1930. See also Schmalenbach (1988: 100, figure 37) for a figurative drum in the collection
of the Barbier-Mueller Museum, Geneva. According to Lamp (personal communication June 18, 1997) the most closely related drum, with respect to the
figurative quality of the drum, is another in the collection of the Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum, Cologne.
Estimate:$ 150,000 - $ 250,000 Price Realized:$ 180,000
|Sotheby's - Paris
Art Africain et Océanien, African and Oceanic Sale
Auction Date : Dec 5, 2003
Lot 83 : SUPERBE TAMBOUR À CARYATIDE, BAGA, GUINÉE
Grand tambour timba à membrane, au décor très élaboré dont le corps, vaste et profond, est supporté par un cheval caryatide.
Outre sa taille spectaculaire, ce tambour se caractérise par la très grande élégance qui s'en dégage. L'ensemble, constitué par la base ronde, le cheval à
la silhouette stylisée et le corps du tambour présente une parfaite harmonie, donnée par l'élancement des formes et la souplesse de la ligne. Très beau
décor de la surface, à motifs stylisés - géométriques ou naturels - sculptés en bas relief. Une couche de kaolin recouvre l'ensemble de la sculpture et sert
de base au décor polychrome. Le bord de la membrane a conservé ses poils d'origine. Bois polychrome, peau et fibres.
Très bon état général de conservation.
Ancienne cassure du socle avec réparation indigène; longue fente sur le flanc gauche du cheval et une étroite à l'arrière du corps du tambour; petits
éclats de peinture; petit trou de 3 cm de long dans la membrane encore parfaitement tendue.
haut. 138 cm, long. 65 cm, larg. 60 cm
Estimate: € 35,000 - € 50,000
LOT 83 PROVENANT D'UNE COLLECTION PRIVÉE EUROPÉENNE
Collecté en Afrique de l'Ouest par Rolf de Maré avant 1938 et donné au propriétaire actuel en 1964.
Collected in West Africa by Rolf de Maré prior to 1938 and given to the present owner in 1964.
This drum compares most closely in relation to the horse caryatid and the overall refinement of carving to another well-known timba in the collection of the
musée du quai Branly, Paris, number 65-1-12 (see Lamp 1996: 183, no. 172 and MAAO 1999: 54).
This magnificently conceived drum was used exclusively by adult Baga males of high ritual standing, primarily in male initiation ceremonies called kä-bërë-
Tshol or 'entering the medicine', before such ceremonies ceased with the Islamization of the Baga people in the 1950's. The male drum is called timba, as
opposed to the female Baga drums, called a-ndëf, used for female initiation ceremonies.
The use of the timba was restricted to men of the secret Simo society. It was a tool that underscored the primacy of male social institutions and their
political power in an adult world. For men, indeed, the main ritual occupation was the control of initiation into adulthood, immersion in esoteric knowledge of
the sacred, and the use of restricted paraphernalia. Primarily used in initiation ceremonies, the timba could also be played at weddings, funerals of high-
ranking male elders and sacrifices to the ancestors, especially after the harvest.
According to Lamp, horse figures appeared in two types of traditional Baga works: the timba drum and the stool. 'The use of the horse in the sculpture of
the patriarchy is a symbol of Baga adaptation to changing political conditions at the highest ritual level. The Baga of the twentieth century were introduced
to the horse with the coming of the mounted French commandant.' Overlaid with existing symbolism known to the Baga, the horse was ultimately a symbol
of power and invincibilty. Its incorporation into timba drums - the most visible and enduring symbol of the patriarchy - further showed that the elders were
capable of appropriating new symbols of power (Lamp ibid.: 202-203).