A Collection of Three Vintage Shigaraki Vases , Japan

Shigaraki (信楽焼) is one of the areas of the six ancient kilns. Located near Kyoto and using a clay & glazes that were developed over centuries, the beautiful natural forms & drip glazes termed Wabi Sabi

Classic Japanese ceramics, which matured and flowered in the early shogunate period, are guided by the aesthetic of “wabi-sabi”.

This approach, which reflects the ideals of Zen Buddhism, embraces simplicity, naturalness, ageing, and irregularity. These effects were achieved with several techniques. Vessels were moulded manually, instead of being precisely shaped on a potter’s wheel. Baking was conducted at relatively low temperatures, thereby avoiding the glassy, polished look of high-temperature ceramics. Instead of being allowed to cool gradually, hot vessels were removed from the kiln and plunged into straw or water, causing such effects as warping, crackles, and distorted colours.


A Collection of Four Abelam Coconut Spining Tops, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea, Early 20th Century

Spinning tops seem to be a type of object independently created by many world cultures used a kids toys.

With the Abelam people they are used both as kids toys but also as a ceremonial game that initiated men play with the winner thought to be the clan that will have the biggest ceremonial yams during that years harvest. The concave surface is decorated with various stylized and other geometric designs.

One of the major focuses of ceremonial life among the Abelam people of northeast New Guinea is the competitive growth and exchange of long yams. The Abelam cultivate two distinct categories of yams—a small variety used as ordinary food and long yams, massive tubers that can be as much as twelve feet long. A man’s social status is determined largely by his success in growing long yams. Each man has a permanent exchange partner to whom he ceremonially presents his largest yams following the annual harvest, later receiving those of his rival in return. Men who are consistently able to give their partners longer yams than they receive gain great prestige. Lavishly adorned for the presentation ceremony, the finest long yams are essentially transformed into human images, decorated in the manner of men in full ceremonial regalia. The “heads” of the enormous tubers are adorned with specially made yam masks such as this one, which are made exclusively for yams and are never worn by humans.

Similar tops used in a harvest ceremony are illustrated in fig. 48 in Margaret Mead’s book on the Abelam’s neighbours, the Mountain Arapesh.


A Collection of Massim Lime Spatulas, Milne Bay Provence, Papua New Guinea,19th Century

Provenance: These lime spatulas collected over 40 years are from several important historical collections from the late 19th Century.

The utensils made for chewing betel nut are some of the most beautiful smaller scale carvings made in New Guinea. Lime Spatulas are usually carved from a dark native ebony hardwood with the finials usually depicting a stylized human ancestor figure in profile.

These six lime spatulas show the high quality of aesthetics that Massim Master Carvers could achieve working in this scale. After carving & polishing the artist would put white lime into the incised designs to highlight them.

Lime Spatulas were used for chewing betel nut by dipping the end into powdered lime (crushed & burnt sea shells) & licking it off as you put a Betel Nut from the Acacia Palm to chew together, the lime diffuses the alkaloids in the Acia Nuts. In the Massim Culture chewing of Betel Nut is a important daily ritual.. Betel Chewers would have a lime gourd & spatula for dipping into the lime, older men with poor teeth would also have a small mortar and pestle for crushing the nuts into a mush where easy to eat.

Many of the most beautiful Massim Lime Spatula were made by Master Carvers for use only by important Chiefly Persons. The motifs are part of the Massim belief system & spirituality

All six of these Lime Spatulas were kept by me over the last 40 years that I had been collecting them as they showed the great skill and imagination the carvers had. Number D has been identified by the world renown Massim Art Scholar Dr Harry Beran as “ THE MASTER OF THE CONCAVE BACK “

The 6 Spatulas Numbered A to F  are for sale individually or as a collection,  The other 12 Lime Spatulas 19th Century are sold as a collection.


A Collection of four Antique Obsidian Bladed Daggers, Maus Province Papua New Guinea

Provenance: Collected during WWII by a USA Serviceman Stationed on Manus Islands

These four daggers with finely made obsidian blades and the handles are made wood covered by Parinarium Nut (putty nut).
Obsidian is a naturally occurring glass formed as an extrusive igneous rock from rapidly-frozen lava. The Bismarck Archipelago, off the north-east coast of Papua New Guinea, is a rich natural resource of obsidian; in particular, the islands of Lou and Manus in the Admiralties.

Obsidian has been used for projectile points since ancient times. This is due to its lack of crystal structure, which gives the blade edges an almost molecular thinness. Even today, well-crafted obsidian blades are used in medical surgery since their cutting edge is many times sharper and finer than that of even high-quality surgical steel scalpels.


A Collection of Six Small Amulet Figures, Lower Sepik River area, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea

Provenance: Ex Denver Fine Art Museum Collection , the museum numbers on the back of 5 of the figures.

All of these figures are finely carved in the form of an anthropomorphic bird men ancestor that represent a category of powerful ancestral beings called waken.

Small amulet figures like these were kept by men in small woven bags or even sometimes woven into their beards. They were used for magical purposes such as; love magic, controlling the weather, hunting for wild pigs & cassowaries, to protect the owner and his family from malevolent sorcerers & the spirit world.


A Collection of 5 Marupai Charms from the Papuan Gulf area, 19th Century

Provenance: Ex Toast and Rohu Sydney

These beautiful carved dwarf coconuts were important magical charms or amulets that most men would have had. The incised designs with infilled lime are based on clan totems. Each clan would have a style of Marapai unique to them. They had immense spiritual power that could be used in many ways.

According to Richard Aldridge; they were used for :

“ They were used for magic such as to protect a man & his family from being attacked through the spirit world and sorcery.

They were used to send and deliver messages to other people with Marupai through the spirit world.

They were used in warfare to confuse an enemy with their powers

They were used as hunting charms for finding wild pigs & cassowary birds.

They were used to transport a person magically from one place to another.

They were used to control the weather “

These charms were kept in small woven bags & sometimes hung around the neck of a sorcerer.


A Collection of 59 Clay & Metal Buddhist Votives, 15th through 19th Century

Clay & metal votives were widely made & used by devote Burmese Buddhists who believe that making these images build spiritual merit.

Bronze moulds were used to make clay images that were stamped out & sun dried & then individually painted with gold or silver. They were made in different scenes of the Buddha’s life. This collection shows many different styles of these clay & metal votives.

Votives sometimes were used to fill the inside a Pagoda or Shrine , others were kept as memories of visits to important Buddhist Shrines or temples.

In Thailand & Burma ancient clay votives are highly regarded as protection & worn in metal cased necklaces.

Clay votive tablets of the Buddha and Buddhist images represent a significant element of the archaeological record of early Buddhist sites in South East Asia including Burma.


A Collection of Four Western Nepal Jar Lids & A Butter Churn Handle

These old wood Jar Stoppers have carved Ancestors on the finial. They were used to close the jars holding Ghee or Clarified Butter . The Tribal people that live in the Himalayas make Ghee is a type of clarified butter that originated in ancient India and is commonly used in cuisines, traditional medicine, and religious rituals. Ghee is prepared by simmering butter, which is churned from cream, and removing the liquid residue. The texture, colour, and taste of ghee depend on the quality of the butter, source of the milk used in the process and the duration of the boiling. The whole purpose of Ghee was to clarify the butter to keep it from spoiling. In Hindu culture, the cow is sacred, and butter is the only animal fat that Hindus will eat. The cow represents the soul, with its obstinate intellect, and unruly emotions, but it is also gentle and generous. The butter gives a sacred offering, fuel for lamps, and so valuable for food.


The ghurra or churning rod-handle are a tool for churning milk into butter. Besides possessing an important functional side, ghurras give expression to the age-old Hindu creation myth, the Samudra Manthana: the churning of the milk ocean by the gods and demons, which is also a story with a paradigmatic pattern, one of the endless struggle between the forces of good and evil.

By using the ghurra the churning process evokes a reality that is inherent to people. In this way, the space-time structure of the mountain people is measured in moments of everlasting holy time (darshan), a ritual action whose initial inner significance was laid down in centuries and centuries ago.

Inspired by their religious convictions and folk customs, Nepalese mountain people have transposed the original mythological churning rope used to rotate and support the churning-rod during churning into sublimely beautiful wooden sculptures full of religious meaning. Ghurras also emanate sublime symbolism through their particular schematic design. They consist of geometric elements that abstractly evoke the gods of the Hindu pantheon.

Ghurras therefore can be interpreted as a symbolic stimulus for a great devotion to god so that in every object or attitude, in every action undertaken, a deep underlying sacred reality is recognised and given expression: Brahman.

The information on this subject relies on the book Divine Support by Paul de Smedt, published by Book Faith India 2000.



A collection of (21) Yoruba Ibeji Figures, Nigeria, West Africa :

The Yoruba people of Nigeria, West Africa have one of the highest birth rate of twins in the world, with 45 of every 1,000 children born a twin, but also have a high mortality rate. In Yoruba culture, twins are considered to possess special powers: they are believed to be one soul, and must be cared for accordingly. If a twin dies in infancy, the family have a wooden figure carved to represent the dead twin.

These carved figures are called Ere Ibeji. The family look after this figure as if it were alive: feeding, bathing, clothing, carrying it like a baby, and performing rituals on significant occasions, to ensure the balance of the shared soul. Many of these figures show evidence of the years of attention and care they have been given, their facial features worn smooth with the handling they have received.

Yoruba carving has a number of characteristics including the shape of head and elaborate conical hairstyle which represent ideals of Yoruba beauty. These distinctive small standing figures are carved to portray the twin in adult form, and the sculptures may be dyed, or decorated with shells, glass beads and metal to enhance their status.
The elaborate style and beauty of the carvings are influenced by the powerful artistic and cultural traditions of the Kingdom of Benin, which flourished in southwest Nigeria between the 13th and 19th centuries.

Today some mothers will also use commercially produced plastic dolls in place of the carved wood figure.


Four Old Magic Stone Heads form Central Amanuban, West Timor, Indonesia

Provenance: Collected in Central Amanuban, West Timor, Indonesia

They are published in the book Arte sul fiume (cap.3) by the artist Filippo Biagioli

These old and beautiful carved Stone Heads are amulets traditionally used by the shaman to connect with ancestral spirits and ask for protection, good harvests, healing from illnesses.