We are delighted to offer a selection of exceptional Southern African art from the Collection of Bernice and Terence Pethica this November in our auction of African & Oceanic Art and Antiquities in Edinburgh.
Bernice and Terence Pethica formed one of the leading collections of Southern African art throughout the 1990’s - 2000’s. Terry had always been a collector, but it was after a visit to the Royal Academy’s seminal 1996 exhibition 'Africa: the art of a continent' that he and Bernice began to explore the portable arts of the south. Many of the lots featured here are fine, rare and exceptional examples of their type.
On the 27th November, an exceptional selection of Southern African art from the Bernice and Terence Pethica Collection will be offered in our African & Oceanic Art and Antiquities auction in Edinburgh. Many of the pieces included in the sale have been published in Klopper, Nettleton and Pethica's The Art of Southern Africa, The Terence Pethica Collection, 2007, n° 21. Highlights include a Superb Makonde Initiation Figure, Fine Chokew Masks and a North Nguni Neckrest.
Originating from Mozambique, this Superb Makonde Initiation Figure is made of carved wood. The figure is shown standing with one hand raised to the midriff holding a pipe and the other clutching the genitals.
"The initiation of both men and women in southern Africa often involved the use of wooden figures. Much of this instruction centred on sexual norms and behaviour and so many of the figures had explicit genitals. This figure is one of these instruction models, but its style is difficult to place. The treatment of the face (especially the protruding ears) and the gestures suggest it is Makonde." (Klopper, Nettleton and Pethica 2007).
This Fine Chokew Mask, Pwo from Angola has been made of carved wood, hollowed into an oval form. The mask’s is held slightly agape with the eyes framed by an arching brow. A scarification is incised on the cheek and forehead with incisions around the edge for the attachment of a fibre headdress.
"One of the most important Chokwe initiation masks embodies the idea of ideal female beauty. This mask, which honours women as providers and fulfilled women, also celebrates the importance of mothers for the well-being of the mukanda initiation camp. Called pwo (woman), this mask is sometimes said to represent the beauty of both mature women and young girls, mwana pwo. The charming dance of this masked figure, which is always elegantly dressed, teaches initiates - and the village spectators she visits during the initiation period - the importance of cultivating grace and good manners." (Klopper, Nettleton and Pethica 2007).
Made of carved wood and pokerwork, this North Nguni Neckrest from South Africa is made up of dual neck supports seperated by a central lidded snuff container, resting on three "wheels" decorated with notched triangular motifs sitting on a long base below
"This wonderfully witty headrest combines elements used in making single headrests supported by a lone circle with features from more traditional long Nguni-style headrests, and adds other modern elements to mix. For this support, the carver juxtaposed three circles, each centred on a knob from which radiate four arms of a vertically oriented cross shape, like four wheel spokes. The three wheels rest on a long base, and the other two outer wheels each support a platform (Tsonga style) with a V-shaped hook (Zulu/Nguni style) extending from the end. The central circle supports a hemispherical lidded pot that connects the two platforms. The notched triangular relief decoration on the circles is similar to that on other headrests of the circle type, but here the black and tan contrasts created by pokerwork are in an almost pristine condition. If anything was likely to be kept in the pot, it would have been snuff." (Klopper, Nettleton and Pethica 2007).