Antelope dance crest "tijwara" ("chiwara")
|Sotheby's London, 28 July 1970, Lot 61
Hans Schleger (1898-1976), Berlin / London, Germany / Great Britain
Schleger, who signed with the artist name „Zéró“, was a German-British graphic artist and graphic designer, specialized in commercial graphics and internationally also known for his poster art.
H: 11.4 inch;
L: 28.3 inch
wood, two-part, pigments, cotton fibres, metal, rest., base
This "tijwara" shows a rare, extremely unusual form. It depicts an antelope carrying a fawn on its back. The long, backward-swinging horns do not grow from the heads, but from the highly stylised bodies of the animals. A comparable example from the Jay C. Leff Collection was sold at auction at Sotheby's New York on 7 May 2016 (AHDRC 0078318).
The carved antelopes are known as "tijwara" - "the beast who labors" ("tij": work, "wara": wild animal). They recall a fabulous being, half man, half animal, who in legendary past thaught man how to cultivate the earth. But as grain grew abundant, men began to waste it. "Tijwara"buried himself in the ground, and men, having lost him, carved a sculpture in his memory.
"Tijwara" appear in male and female pairs on basketry caps. The dancers were bent over forelegs of wooden sticks and were completely hidden by cloaks of plant fibre.
The central meaning of "tijwara" originally was to encourage the collective farming of land with the hoe. Accordingly they performed on three occasions: competitive weeding, dances of joy after the collective field work was done and at the annual celebration of the initiation society.