Berz Gallery of African Art

Top Quality Chokwe Prestige Comb with Refined Coiffure

Chokwe Tribe, Angola

Composition: wood, stain, copper wiring, found/forged metal adornment in coiffure Dimensions: 7.5" (18.5 cm) h Age: early 20th century Provenance: Ex. Galerie Philippe Laermans, Brussels (Belgium); Exhibition History: This object was vetted by a committee of tribal art experts and vetted as antique and authentic at BRUNEAF, June 2017 Certification: Every piece sold includes a handmade custom base and a comprehensive dossier with certificate and authenticity with any additional historical documentation or information pertaining to the object. Description: It can be said almost without exception that African combs and hair objects are a source of pride for their owner. “The tools of the hairdresser include pins, combs, and razors. Scissors did not appear south of the Sahara until introduced by North African leather workers and by European missionaries and colonials” (Hair in African Art and Culture, Sieber and Herreman, Prestel, 2000). Hair ornaments, such as this richly carved Chokwe/Lwena comb from Angola, express authority, wealth, initiation stage, marital status, and provide adornment for beauty. The Chokwe, among other tribes, carved combs and hairpins for all of these reasons. This comb is of exceptional quality an age and a level of craftsmanship that makes it likely that someone of great status within the tribe owned it. The figure stands tall, prominent, with detailed facial features, and a layered and very sophisticated coiffure. Also of major note is the flat yet tapered design of the comb itself, with teeth of the comb almost being generated by a flat source with abstract, cubist linear designwork. A fine comb, one of several absolutely beautiful combs in this auction. The upper portion of the comb has a series of very carefully executed linear designs, which play beautifully off of the linear designs on the bulb coiffure of the superstructure. It is remarkable how carefully incised these lines are, as well as scarification on the face and a beautifully executed face, lips, eyes, nose--all carefully designed and executed. The very thing, perfectly placed copper (or even brass) wiring around the neck speaks to a woman of prestige and authority. Finally, the detail of the tiny piece of forged metal on the right side of the head--a flourish, an adornment, speaks to further care and love with which this comb was created and presented to its owner.