South African Tsonga ‘Antelope’ Headrest
South African Tsonga ‘Antelope’ Headrest
South African Tsonga ‘Antelope’ Headrest
South African Tsonga ‘Antelope’ Headrest
South African Tsonga ‘Antelope’ Headrest
South African Tsonga ‘Antelope’ Headrest
South African Tsonga ‘Antelope’ Headrest

South African Tsonga ‘Antelope’ Headrest

1800 to 1900 South Africa

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A Rare South African Tsonga ‘Antelope’ Headrest
Carved of redwood with some old damage to the base
Superb silky smooth patination
19th Century

Size: 17.5cm high, 13cm wide, 7cm deep – 7 ins high, 5 ins wide, 2¾ ins deep
Provenance: Ex Private English collection
cf: Art and Ambiguity The Brenthurst Collection; page 70, fig 58, shows a similar example
Art of Southeast Africa; 2002, catalogue no. 51, for another antelope headrest
Ancestral spirits were believed to communicate with their living descendants through dreams and thus the ‘support of dreams’ (Falgayrettes 1989), the headrest, manifested this interdependence in a material form. Headrests were often gifts taken by a bride to her new home when she married and this custom symbolically linked her ancestors with her husbands.
The carving of wood was an exclusively male occupation and headrests provided considerable scope for the skill of a carver to elaborate on various local styles. Representational animal figures, mostly of antelope and cattle, appear very rarely in the art of South African headrests. However, because of their appeal to western aesthetic sensibilities they appear in museums and collections in numbers that outweigh any properly balanced selection.
Medium
Wood
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