Featured A mistery African object?

Discussion in 'Tribal Art' started by Magazzino della Zita, Jun 5, 2023.

  1. Hello!
    I have found this very unusual object and I am trying to find out its origin, approximate and, above all, its purpose. I thought "Africa", but I am not sure about it...
    The structure holding the naked man and woman at the sides rotates on the axis which has another man who holds his hand at the forehead. The total height is approximately 30 cm. I have found it at home, probably bought by my mother many years ago.
    Any ideas?
    Thank you, Andrea
    1391 sm.jpg 1391b sm.jpg 1391a sm.jpg
  2. silverbell

    silverbell Well-Known Member

    Um...selectively "naked."
    cfh likes this.
  3. Any Jewelry

    Any Jewelry Well-Known Member

    I wonder if it could be some kind of spindle (yarn).
    Boland likes this.
  4. 2manybooks

    2manybooks Well-Known Member

    Welcome, Magazzino.

    An interesting item. I have not seen such a thing before. The style of carving does not look like any African tradition that I am familiar with, and if @Any Jewelry does not recognize it, it is not from Indonesia (;)).

    I assume from your name that you are located in Italy? It might be helpful to know where you think your mother might have acquired it. Did she travel much?

    The costumes are (at least partially) in what appear to be European styles, and with that style of chip carving (the geometric decorative elements) I might look more toward eastern Europe (Balkans, Hungary, etc.).

    Here are some Hungarian mangling boards that show similar carvings:
    Hungarian mangling boards smaller.jpg

    And a painted detail from another Hungarian mangling board that shows similar costumes - note the man's hat and jacket on the right, and the depiction of the woman's hair:

    Hungarian mangling board detail.jpg

    (Both images from: "Herdsmen's Art in Hungary", by Janos Manga. Corvina Press, 1972.)
  5. Aquitaine

    Aquitaine Is What It IS! But NEVER BORED!

    Only based on what looks like it could be a handle in the middle, wondering if it could be something to be carried in a parade or some sort of religious ceremony??
  6. Boland

    Boland Well-Known Member

    A very interesting thing that. Looking forward to learning about it.
  7. komokwa

    komokwa The Truth is out there...!

    it's wonderful.......& ceremonial has a valid ring to it ..
    Figtree3, Aquitaine and johnnycb09 like this.
  8. johnnycb09

    johnnycb09 Well-Known Member

    i just realized they are anatomically correct ! What a fascinating piece.
  9. Aquitaine

    Aquitaine Is What It IS! But NEVER BORED!

    komokwa likes this.
  10. Anouchka FG

    Anouchka FG Active Member

    It looks like an antique european possibly french toy (made by a soldier?)for adults. The players had to rotate the moving part to make the man or woman stop in front of the soldier in the middle. It's just a guess! A very interesting piece!
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2023
  11. Any Jewelry

    Any Jewelry Well-Known Member

    I was thinking along the same lines.
    The type of carving reminds me somewhat of distaffs that were carved by shepherds in our region (SE Netherlands). They often had nude or semi-nude figures at the top.

    Along the lines of European folk wool or textile implements I thought of an intricate spindle. And because these figures are carved as partly dressed and partly nude, I can imagine that the nudity would be wound with yarn and slowly 'undressed' as a weaver or knitter used more of the wool.
  12. 2manybooks

    2manybooks Well-Known Member

    I like that idea. An incentive? Or sly surprise?
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2023
    johnnycb09 and Any Jewelry like this.
  13. Any Jewelry

    Any Jewelry Well-Known Member

    Possibly the latter that could lead to the former.:playful:

    Maybe a young man made this for his fiancee, and gave it to her with the wool on. As she knitted a garment she slowly discovered his intentions.:shame::joyful:
    BoudiccaJones and 2manybooks like this.
  14. Thank you All for the comments and ideas!
    Although the spindle theory might seem a rather possible answer, all spindles I have seen have a rather simpler form. If this was a spindle, the yarn would have to be rolled up on the central pin, rather then to cover (or uncover) the nudities....the carved pattern is a rather common one in many European countries; I have several wooden objects from Piemonte (Northern Italy) with very similar motives.
    Ceremonial or game/toy seems more likely to me, but I still think we have not yet hit the right answer....
    The topic is still open to new ideas!!
    komokwa, 2manybooks and Any Jewelry like this.
  15. Any Jewelry

    Any Jewelry Well-Known Member

    There are more elaborate spindles where the wool is wound around the outer construction, which is what I was thinking of.
    Absolutely. Even in the Netherlands, so-called Frisian chip carving.
    2manybooks likes this.
  16. 2manybooks

    2manybooks Well-Known Member

    I believe we are thinking more in terms of what would be called a yarn "winder", somewhat similar to these:


    Any Jewelry likes this.
  17. 2manybooks

    2manybooks Well-Known Member

    Andrea, can you tell us anything about where your mother might have acquired this? Where did she live? Did she travel to other places and, if so, where? This might give us clues as to what cultures to focus on.
    Any Jewelry and komokwa like this.
  18. Good morning,
    We are from Italy, my mum travelled mostly in Europe and bought her antiques mainly in Italy, France and UK. In the 50s she was often in Paris at the Marche aux Puces; as I have seen this object at home since I can remember, i suppose it was bought either in Italy or France. She started travelling further only much later, but she never was in Africa, nor in the Eastern countries.
    I had discarded the yarn winder option due to the shape of this: it would have a rather small capacity and a high risk of the yarn "falling out" of it. Unless it gets caught in the male attribute... :shame:
    komokwa, 2manybooks and Any Jewelry like this.
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