Lot 2810
  • 2810

TELLEM IRON SHIELD BANDIAGARA ESCARPMENT, MALI

Estimate
40,000 - 60,000 HKD
Sold
60,000 HKD
bidding is closed

Description

  • Iron
  • 50 cm, 19 5/8  in.
of circular form, the front cast with a flat band bordering the edge and centred with a circular panel surmounted by a raised knop, the centre of the reverse with a thin arched strap, stand

Provenance

Renaud Vanuxem, Paris.
Wild Gallery, Brussels.
Pierre Dartevelle, Brussels.
A private Belgian collection.

Literature

Wild Gallery, 2001.

Catalogue Note

The Tellem were a hunter-gatherer people who inhabited the great sandstone Bandiagara escarpment between the eleventh and sixteenth centuries AD, using caves and cliff dwellings as granaries and burial chambers. The eventual disappearance of the Tellem is not entirely accounted for; it appears some died of disease, some were taken in slave raids, and some were incorporated by the Dogon people, who probably arrived in the Bandiagara escarpment around the 14th century (see R. M. A. Bedaux, ‘Tellem and Dogon Material Culture’, African Arts, Vol. XXI, No. 4, 1988, p. 41).

This great iron shield is an exceptionally rare and prestigious object; the large amounts of iron required to make such a shield would have ensured that it remained highly valuable across successive generations. It seems likely that this prestige may also account in part for the great rarity of such shields, which are generally only known to us from their appearance in miniature form in small iron figures of warriors.
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