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.


Paris auction sets record for a tribal art collection result

12 July 2021

The sale of Michel Périnet’s collection of tribal art at Christie’s in Paris on June 23 real ised a remarkable €66m/£57m (including buyer’s premium) and every one of the 61 lots were sold.

Tribal highlights: mask and figure at Woolley & Wallis

28 June 2021

The best-performing lots in the tribal art sale at Woolley & Wallis (25% buyer’s premium) in Salisbury on June 8 were these two pieces: an Ibibio mask (idiok ekpo) sold at £30,000 and a Nicobar standing male figure (kareau) that brought £34,000.

Top-selling Nigerian mask stars in our pick of five auction highlights sold this week

11 June 2021

ATG’s weekly selection of items that caught bidders’ eyes includes a rare Ibibio mask from the Niger Delta that made over 35-times estimate in Salisbury.

The head masters from Africa

17 May 2021

Exhibition at firm’s new premises focuses on headdress and headwear

Ritual figure from Rapa Nui and sells in Germany

12 April 2021

Tribal art specialist Zemanek-Münster will be holding a spring auction on April 24 in Würzburg.

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Tribal show gets into the spirit

07 December 2020

Offered by Bryan Reeves of Tribal Gathering for £4200, this Luba baboon mask is one of more than 100 objects on offer at Tribal Art London’s third online event, Spirit Animals.

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Korean helmet and Tongan war club

05 October 2020

Two lots from Tennants’ (20% buyer’s premium) sale in Leyburn on September 4. The 17th century Korean leather and steel helmet sold to a South Korean buyer for £4800.

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War club to be brandished in North Yorks

31 August 2020

This 4ft (1.2m) long Tongan Aku-Tau ironwood war club will feature in a sale of Militaria and Ethnographica to be held by Tennants in Leyburn, North Yorkshire, on September 4.

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Knives out to Danish buyer

03 August 2020

Two 19th century ‘prestige’ knives from southern Africa attracted unexpected levels of bidding at Grand Auctions (20% buyer’s premium) in Folkestone. Estimated at just £40-80 each, they made a combined £9200.

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Tribal focus on the trade and travel impact

22 June 2020

A ceremonial woman’s apron from Geelvink Bay, West Papua, Indonesia, is one of the highlights in a new event staged by Tribal Art London (TAL).

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Senufo peoples statuette features in Paris tribal art sale

18 May 2020

This unpublished carved wooden statuette from the Senufo peoples of south-east Mali, west Africa, is to be offered in a 154-lot sale of Tribal Art to be held on May 26 by Ader in its Paris, rue Favart rooms in collaboration with the Euvrard Fabre auction house.

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Australasian artefacts sell at Tennants

06 January 2020

Australasia provided the talking points and two main buyers at the recent Tennants (20% buyer’s premium) specialist sale in the Yorkshire Dales.

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Post rarity delivers a £24,000 result

28 October 2019

Having stood at Guernsey airport from 1946-81, the island post box shown below came out of storage in 1988 for presentation to the late politician and lawyer Roger Perrot who died earlier this year.

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Pick of the week: Polynesian war club is a big hit in Salisbury

30 September 2019

A tribal war club from the Marquesas Islands with textbook provenance has sold for £71,000 at Woolley & Wallis. The u’u (head club) came for sale at the Salisbury saleroom from the descendants of an early-19th century missionary.

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Eclectic sales at London’s 12th tribal gathering

16 September 2019

A Madonna and Child sculpture from 19th century Luba culture in the Democratic Republic of Congo was among the sales at Tribal Art London, where the theme was Mother, Muse and Maker.

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Social media storm stops Maori cloak auction

09 September 2019

Sussex auction house Burstow & Hewett has withdrawn a rare Maori cloak after its imminent sale was met by online threats and abuse.

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Latest sales at London’s tribal gathering

09 September 2019

Dealer Ian Shaw sold this Tutsi shield, made of lightweight wood with natural pigment and offered for £13,000, to an interior designer from Denmark at last week’s 'Tribal Art London' fair.

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PAD London: The prime design destination

09 September 2019

This Mayfair event provides an eclectic selection for professionals and public alike

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Aboriginal weapons saved from a skip now sell at auction

15 July 2019

Saved at the last minute from a skip, a collection of Aboriginal weapons drew worldwide interest at Martel Maides’ sale in St Peter Port, Guernsey.

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Go fishing for tribal art in Landshut auction

01 July 2019

Numerous tribes inhabit the Cross River state of south-eastern Nigeria, close to the border with Cameroon. Animals of many kinds play a major part in the myths and religions of the area.

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