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MANO MALE AND FEMALE COUPLE, LIBERIA
Estimate
200,000300,000
LOT SOLD. 662,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT
19
MANO MALE AND FEMALE COUPLE, LIBERIA
Estimate
200,000300,000
LOT SOLD. 662,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

The Robert Rubin Collection of African Art

|
New York

MANO MALE AND FEMALE COUPLE, LIBERIA
Height of male: 18 in (45.7 cm) Height of female: 18 1/2 in (47 cm)
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Provenance

Harvey Menist, Amsterdam
S. Thomas Alexander III, Saint Louis, acquired from the above
Alan Liebermann, Saint Louis, acquired from the above before April 1983
S. Thomas Alexander III, Saint Louis, acquired from the above
Robert Rubin, New York, acquired from the above on February 27, 1989

Exhibited

Southstreet Seaport Museum, New York, Africans in the New World: From Captive Passage to Cultural Transcendence, November 2003 (exhibition from September 2003 - March 2004)
Heller Ehrman, New York, African Art at Heller Ehrman, April - November, 2005

Literature

Warren M. Robbins and Nancy I. Nooter, African Art in American Collections, New York, 1989, p. 156, figs. 288 & 289

Catalogue Note

The Mano Couple from the Robert Rubin Collection

The Mano live in Northeastern Liberia adjacent to the Dan. The two groups are very closely related linguistically and culturally, with one exception. The Mano maintain the Poro society as a principal feature of social organization, while the Dan do not have this society. The two groups create similar art objects, though used in somewhat different ways. Dan carvers often produced works for Mano patrons and vice versa. Thus it is often difficult to distinguish with certainty which culture a particular work comes from without specific information on the carver or provenance.

The majority of Dan, Mano and We figurative sculptures were produced as tour de force works by carvers on commission for prominent members of the communities. They were commonly portraits of the wives of the individual who commissioned the piece. They are generally carefully carved with identifiable features of the individual represented, e.g., hair style, scarification marks or physical attributes such as a long neck.

There was another group of figurative sculptures that were produced for other purposes, however. These works were kept and used by diviners. They were called upon to learn the causes of social conflict, physical ailments, and assist the petitioner in making decisions that might affect his wellbeing or that of his community. These figures were kept by the diviner and rarely seen by the larger community.

The present figurative pair most probably belongs to this category. The white and red clay on the figures is usually associated with the spirit world, and specifically with divination. The strong geometricised carving is commonly found among the Mano rather than their eastern neighbors, the Dan. The angular faces are similar to many Mano miniature masks. It seems plausible, therefore, to attribute these figures to the Mano. The commanding presence of this pair is striking precisely through the roughness and angularity of the forms and makes this pair the most powerful pair of Mano figures known.

William C. Siegmann
Brooklyn
March 2011

The Robert Rubin Collection of African Art

|
New York