Southern Africa, Madagascar, Mahafaly peoples, ca. mid-20th century CE. A minimalist example of a tall tomb marker known as an "aloalo," the Mahafaly term for burial carvings, hand-carved from a single piece of hardwood. The lower portion of the slender body is slightly wider than the rest of the upper body; the bottom was buried in the ground to stabilize the upper portion. The front of the body features a carved circular sun or star disc with radiating interior lines, with sharply angled shoulders flanking a thin neck, and a disc-shaped head bearing a pair of petite impressed eyes surrounded by an incised periphery. Traces of original white pigment are visible along the lower body and suggest that this post was at one time painted with bright pigments. Size: 4.875" W x 67.125" H (12.4 cm x 170.5 cm).
There are no cemeteries in this region; instead, the living choose a place to have their tombs erected in life, and once they die, construction upon it begins. The carved figures or figurative elements at the top of the aloalo tell the story of the deceased's life, often referencing real people and events that were important to them. The aloalo is placed at the raised tomb alongside the horns of a sacrificed zebu, representing prosperity. This tradition dates to the 18th century and continues to this day. Since French colonization of Madagascar in the late 19th century, aloalo have garnered international attention in the art world, with Mahafaly artists like Efiaimbelo featuring in major exhibitions in the USA, Europe, and Australia.
Provenance: private J.H. collection, Beaverton, Oregon, USA
All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.
A Certificate of Authenticity will accompany all winning bids.
We ship worldwide and handle all shipping in-house for your convenience.
Minor chips to shoulders, upper body, lower body, and head, with softening to some finer details, and fading to original pigmentation, otherwise intact and very good. Nice patina and fine traces of original pigment.