African, ethnic and tribal folk art
Folk Art from Africa

The African Art Gallery

The folk art of Africa reflects both practical and every day needs, as well as larger community and spiritual concerns. Whether it is a lovely handmade basket for storing household goods or a dramatic African mask used in a village ceremony to teach the rules of morality to the young people, African art connects us with the vibrant traditions of African culture. If there is a specific African art item or African mask that you are seeking, please feel free to contact us. We hope you will enjoy our selections.


Guru Mask
Ivory Coast

This mask is danced in village festivals celebrating important occasions such as harvests and weddings. Commissioned by individual wearers, the masks represent particular totems, personalities or themes. The double birds on the top are often dualities such as male/female.

This mask has a lovely patina with green and cream pigments in addition to the soft black and brown ground.

21.5"T x 10 "W x 5 "D. $168.00

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Guru Mask
Ivory Coast

This Dan Mask is unique in that it still has elements of the costume attached: it has a woven rattan backing from which the rest of the costume would be attached. The wooden mask is surrounded by fabric pieces, shells, goat hair beard and mustache, horn, feather and yarn. It has a red polychrome patina. A truly wonderful piece!

13.25" Diameter x 5" Deep. $224.00

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Linga Koba Doll

 

Linga Koba Doll
Ndebele Tribe
South Africa

While Ndebele boys are away in the mountains for their two month wela (initiation), the mothers of the initiates wear linga koba-long strips of beadwork stretching to the ground that represent "long tears":tears of sadness at losing a son, tears of joy at gaining a man.

14"Tall $92.00

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Toma Mask
Ivory Coast

This mask symbolically ends the initiation of candidates for the Poro Society which is responsible for teaching the tribal laws and customs. It is composed of wood, leather and string with some white chalk like paint rubbed on the wood patina.

16.75"T x 5"W x 4"D. $158.00

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Toma Mask

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Monkeybiz: Beaded Dolls and Animals

Created by the women in the very poor Townships
of Cape Town, South Africa, these one-of-a-kind
beaded artworks sing with the vibrant energy
of Southern Africa

Beaded Elephant
South Africa

With his red and gold striped stockings and brilliant green ears, this elephant has a personality that just won’t quit. This is the owner’s favorite piece! The artist’s name is Nosandise Gcani.

18"T x 24"L x 12 "W.

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Icons
Ethiopia

This is the largest and most complex icon that we have had in our gallery. There are two sets of doors with wonderful images inside. The bottom set of doors (12" high) opens to show scenes from the life of Christ. The bottom left panel shows St. George conquering the dragon. The smaller set of doors (4.5" high) shows Christ and his disciples. This wooden icon is beautifully carved both front and back.

25"T x 10.5"W x 1"D.(when closed). $625.00

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Two Level Icon

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Fertility Doll

 

Akua-ba Fertility Doll
Ghana

This lovely abstract wooden doll gets her name from the legend of a woman named Akua who was distraught about being barren, for Akan women desire above all to have children. A priest instructed her to carry a small wooden child on her back and care for it as if it were real. The other villagers teased her, and the wooden figure came to be known as Akua-ba (Akua's Child). Eventually she gave birth to a beautiful daughter, and her detractors began adopting the same measures to cure barrenness. Approximately 12" tall, head is approximately 5" in diameter. $38.00

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Ethiopian Headrest

Used by many different ethnic groups in Ethiopia, a headrest is a symbol of prestige and can only be possessed by an elder of the village. It is used to elevate the head while sleeping on a mat. The headrest is a lovely graceful shape with simple carving on it.


7.5"T x 6"W x 2.25"D. $74.00

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Ethiopian Headrest

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Namchi Fetish

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Namchi Fetish
Cameroon

Among the Namchi (Namji) people of Cameroon, women carry fetish dolls to encourage fertility. The woman treats the figure like a newborn, carrying it on her back and feeding it gruel, as a mother would a child.

wood, leather, shell, coins, fiber, stand is wood and metal

10"T (23"T w/stand) x 5"W x 1.25"Deep. $245.00

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Baule Slingshots
Ivory Coast

A traditional boy's toy, the slingshot is used to keep animals out of the crops and for hunting birds and lizards. The figures reflect the skill and whimsy of each individual carver. Each of these slingshots have a lovely patina that speaks of much use and handling. They make a wonderful collection displayed in a group.

 

$98.00 Each

 

Woman Kneeling
7"T x 3"W x 2"D
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Hands in Pockets
8.5"T x 3.75"W x 2"D

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Holding Mask
6.5"T x 3.5"W x 2"D
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Baule Slingshot: Woman Kneeling

Baule Slingshot: Hands in Pockets

Baule Slingshot: Holding Mask

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Bolgatanga Basket

 

Bolgatanga Basket
Ghana

These lovely twined baskets of natural and dyed Savannah Straw are made for carrying market produce and for storage of household goods. Basketmaking is the only regular dependable source of income for women in the Bolgatanga district of Northern Ghana. Please specify if you prefer predominately blue, green, or red accents, or let us choose for you. Approximately 15" diameter, 15" high. $42.00

Temporarily Out of Stock

Nkuringo Wishing Basket
Uganda

This traditional designed Ugandan basket is woven by a woman in Nkuringo, an area on the edge of Bwindi National Park (home of the endangered mountain gorillas) seldom visited by tourists. By purchasing this basket you are enabling  local artisans to make a living outside the parks, strengthen their communities and help preserve the fragile gorilla habitat.

Each basket takes between 20-30 hours to weave. Most of the women have to walk several hours to a well for fresh water each day and there is no electricity to work in the evening, so each basket can often take weeks to complete. Legend has it that if you put a token of your wish in this basket, it will come true…perhaps a pebble from in front of your sweetheart’s hut or an herb from the traditional healer to cure an illness.  Made from local grasses naturally dyed with mushrooms and herbs.

Each basket is one of a kind; let us choose one for you.

6"T x 6"D $42.00

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Nkuringo Wishing Basket
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Weaving Pulley

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Weaving Pulley
Senufo Tribe
Ivory Coast

Often the tools of everyday life are carved and embellished with spiritual figures to bring blessings to the work! This hand carved weaving pulley is carved in the image of the Hornbill bird, a very sacred figure. The metal stand is included.

11"Tall. The stand is 3.5" square. $138.00

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