Ritual Sasak Book from Lombok, Indonesia

This is an old ritual book from the Sasak people of Lombok, Indonesia. It is drawn and written on leaves of Lontar palm in the old Wektu Telu script on seven panels. The drawings are the intriguing part of this book that tells a ritual tale.  If only we could understand this story. If you can translate this story, please contact us. See it on our website.

Ritual book from Lombok, Indonesia
Ritual book from Lombok, Indonesia

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The animals have migrated from Central Mali

Delightful and whimsically painted carved wooden fish, crocodiles, goats, zebras and other animals from the Bozo people of Central Mali have migrated to Berkeley. They were part of a week-long celebration that occurs once a year after the millet is harvested and put in the storerooms. The Young Men’s Association is responsible for putting on the elaborate puppet performances, complete with music and dance. The performances are considered entertainment but have a serious side in recounting the history of the tribe and making comments on morality in the group.

The puppet masquerades are open to all members of the village as well as any visitors who have happened upon the occasion. The members of the group spend all year carving and painting the wooden pieces, making the armatures for the pieces to fit on, writing the songs and practicing the performances. Many of the performances have animals in central roles, either representing a past event of the tribe or important food sources. Read more >

Many of the pieces are from villages on the Niger River and involve water animals like fish and crocodiles that are part of their daily life. Come see these animals before they migrate to homes in the Bay Area.

Summer David Marsh Furniture Sale

Dixie chairs by David Marsh

Our summer delivery of David Marsh furniture started with a sale on all of the furniture. It arrived a few days earlier than we expected so we had some time to arrange the pieces before the 12th of Friday,  the first day of the sale. The sale will continue through the following weekend and end on Monday the 22nd. The first piece of furniture is 10% off the marked price, the second is 20% off and three or more pieces are 20% off all three.

As always, there were many pieces of unusual and beautifully crafted pieces of furniture. They ranged from small cabinets in muted colors and natural wood to small tables painted in a hot mix of bright colors.  We will give you a sample of the pieces but to see the full range of the new furniture go to the website, http://www.ethnicarts.com .

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Elegance of Tribal Currency

April 15th, Tax Day was the inspiration – money seemed to be on everyone’s mind so it started us thinking about different forms of money. We looked around the store and were struck with the myriad and beautiful forms of currency used by tribal peoples. From the shell currencies in the island cultures of Pacific Islands to the sculptural metal forms in Africa it was apparent that money had surprising forms. Instead of thinking about these pieces as sculpture we grouped them together for their function,  an item used to exchange for something desirable or to promote standing in their community.

The currency in this exhibit, The Elegance of Tribal Currency, comes from two different areas, the islands of the Pacific and the west coast and central areas of Africa.

Shells in various forms are money in the Pacific region.  Smaller shells are bound together to form circles like the nassa shell currency of the Tolai people of New Britain. Other areas like the Abalam people of the Wosera region of Papua New Guinea, carve their large clam shells with bamboo knives into a circle with a hole in the center.

The old currency found in Africa has its origins in the mystical feeling of iron and bronze. The metal worker was considered to have sacred powers bestowed by the gods. The currency that developed from metal reflected pieces that were part of the culture. Bracelets too heavy to be worn, swords too thin to be dangerous, and necklaces too large for people were tribal money. Abstract iron forms from the Kissi tribe of Sierra Leone and the Guru people of Ivory Coast were bundled into groups of recognized value.