6-9 September: Tribal Art London

Marcuson & Hall

A carved Zulu vessel

Est. around £14,000

The tenth edition of London’s ethnographic art fair features this 19th-century vessel from the KwaZulu province of South Africa, offered by the Brussels-based dealer Marcuson & Hall. The wooden, lidded vessel stands around 35 cm tall and is carved with an abstract fluted interlace pattern, a signature trait of Zulu works of art. The vessel may have ended up in Europe when it was given by a chief or eminent person within the tribe to a visiting missionary; alternatively, it may have been produced specifically for the growing Western clientele for African works of art at the time. Although the exact function of the vessel is unknown, scholars note that similar lidded vessels were used to preserve and share tobacco, which was rarely consumed alone or outside of ceremonial gatherings. Comparable Zulu vessels “rarely appear on the market, and less and less so in recent years—very few have come up at auction in the last 20 years, but I do recall a similar but larger and more ornate piece fetching [around] €34,000 at Sotheby’s, Paris, in 2010”, the dealer Alan Marcuson told The Art Newspaper. Read more