Yesterday, Kissima, the African trader, an old friend of Gary Hauser’s came by for a visit. His van was packed with masks, figurines, hand woven baskets, king’s stools, mud and kuba cloth, evidence of a recent odyssey to the smallest villages of West Africa.
Under the cold winter sun of the Cental Oregon coast, Kissima spread his array of artifacts for us to peruse. His aquisitions were not the lower quality trinkets sold to tourists in the markets of larger towns and cities, but ceremonial-quality; that is to say, masks and figurines which have been, or could be used in actual tribal rituals. Some of the pieces were quite old–over a hundred years.
There were so many wonderful items which all but overwhelmed the senses. Some were absolutely unique, like the Salampasu metal headress with a top-knot of feathers, others were executions of iconic standards like the pregnant Baga fertility figure which posseses both male and female attributes.
Like a magician whose hat cannot possibly contain so many things, Kissima pulled artifact after artifact out of his van seemingly without end. However, no matter how wonderous the objects, even an art gallery must proceed on a budget. We did not, could not buy every amazing piece, but we bought a lot. We chose items mostly from the Kuba, Baga, Pende and Makwonde tribes from The Congo, Guinea and Tanzania. The Hauser Gallery now adds these, provocative and powerful pieces to its already diverse collection of African artifacts.
Forthcoming blogs will describe these exotic and artful additions to the collection.