Lot 1
  • 1

Tellem House Post, Mali

8,000 - 12,000 USD
18,750 USD
bidding is closed


  • wood
  • Height: 76 1/2 in (194 cm)
encircled with four figures carved in relief.


Allan Stone, New York

Catalogue Note

Famous for their highly abstract cubist style, the Tellem were the original inhabitants of the south eastern part of the Bandiagara Cliff in central Mali prior to the arrival of the Dogon in the 16th century. Leloup (1994: 140-141) notes: "The characteristis of the Tellem statues are the following: small figurative renderings usually with raised arms. This attitude, the tension, the frequently exaggerated proportions of the arms clearly identify the goal of this sculpture: begging for rain. The elongation of the arms underscore the imploring attitude."

The housepost from the Allan Stone Collection, an extremely rare example of Tellem relief sculpture, features an iconography corresponding exactly to the ideal of the Tellem style as postulated by Leloup. The four alternating male and female figures, presumably renderings of the primordial couple, raise their elongated arms to the sky towards a band of zigzag in the post's upper section, a symbol for water and rain. The thick sacrificial incrustation attests to many libation ceremonies and the spiritual importance of this architectural element, suggesting that it once belonged to a shrine house or another structure of religious importance.