I haven't always been drawn to objects with color on them, but over the years I've come to appreciate them and seek
them out. Early in my collecting journey I was obsessed with Senufo "firespitter" masks. Most of the examples I had
come across in books and auction catalogs up to that point were plain wooden examples. When I set out to find one
for my collection that was the style I was looking for. However, when a dealer contacted me to let me know he had
one for me to look at, I was surprised to find it painted with red and white paint. I immediately told him that it was not
the type I was looking for but he insisted that I sit down with it and study it for a while because it was a good example.
It was a nice older mask adorned with 4 animals on the top of it. It was a big stretch financially for me since it was the
most expensive object I'd considered purchasing to date, but after sitting with it for an hour or so I decided to buy it.
Several years later I took the mask with me when I went to visit a well seasoned collector. I hadn't shown the mask to
anyone yet and I wanted his opinion on it. He told me that he was pleasantly surprised by the Senufo mask. He said
when he saw me walk in with it he immediately thought that it looked like a brightly painted carnival mask, but upon
further examination he could tell that it was an older example that had use and had been repainted several times, like
they often are. That mask has been and still is one of my favorite objects in my collection. Since that time I've
acquired another painted example and have developed a definite appreciation for painted objects and objects
adorned with color, primarily brightly painted puppets from the Bamana and Bozo of Mali which have been a major
collecting focus of mine over the past few years.
I've been especially drawn to objects with red in them and some of those objects are showcased here in "Shades of
Red" where I've tried to put together objects that are red/shades of red, or objects that have been adorned with red in
some form or fashion.
I've marked the objects that are new to my website with *NEW.
I've also done some price reductions on objects that were already on my website; they're marked with *price reduced.
I hope you'll enjoy the objects, please feel free to contact me with any questions.
|Dan Zakpai mask
'Zakpai' is the fire prevention mask. Its
function is to insure that women have put out
their cooking fires every day during the dry
season, before the afternoon winds begin to
blow. Zakpai is aggressive, sometimes throws
things, and is meant to inspire fear.
"to see red" (to be angry or aggressive)
"to have red ears / a red face" (to be embarrassed)
"to paint the town red" (to have an enjoyable evening, usually with a generous amount of eating, drinking, dancing)
"to raise a red flag" (to signal that something is problematic)
"like a red rag to a bull" (to cause someone to be enraged)
"to be in the red" (to be losing money, from the accounting habit of writing deficits and losses in red ink)
"a red letter day" (a special or important event, from the medieval custom of printing the dates of saints' days and holy days in red ink.)
"to print in red ink" (for emphasis or easy identification)
"to lay out the red carpet" or "give red-carpet treatment" (to treat someone royally as a very special person)
"to catch someone red-handed" (in the act of doing something wrong, such with blood on his hands after a murder or poaching game)
There are many different shades of red, and there are just as many varied types of associations and emotional
reactions to it. In many cultures the color red is associated with positive connotations such as courage, loyalty, honor,
success, fortune, fertility, happiness, and passion. In China and India red is associated with weddings, as the bridal
dress is traditionally red.
In Central Africa, Ndembu warriors rub themselves with red paint during celebrations. Since their culture sees the
color as a symbol of life and health, sick people are also painted with it. In other parts of Africa, however, red is a
color of mourning, representing death. Because red is associated with death in many parts of Africa, the Red Cross
has changed its colors to green and white in parts of the continent.
Whatever the context it is used in, red stands out and it makes a statement.
Red is one of the most prominent colors found in various types of African art. Clays and berries provided the pigment
for earlier African art before the introduction of polychrome paint which dramatically broadened the available color
palatte to decorate objects with.