Tuesday's Visual Treat - Day 2/ Objects of Desire

Not surprisingly, objects of our desire tend to trigger little creatures in our head (as well as heart) which then cause us to crave/covet/seek/search/acquire/enjoy/display/hide/bury/regress/regret and other equally questionable actions.  Certainly less scholarly than the assembly of a collection based solely on provenance or aesthetic concerns, and usually without any pretense of accumulating financial gain or securing social prestige; and at times almost manic/frantic/chaotic/panicked/driven/compulsive the first acquisition quickly becomes two which multiplies tenfold, and a single shelf becomes a full cabinet and this in turn expands into the entire room.  All this can occur within a matter of days/weeks/months/years while the heart is going bang, bang, bang, and remains so--resolutely!!

Day two is devoted to another of the obsessions that I have experienced; namely, tribal jewelry.  The creations of the indigenous peoples of India, Afghanistan, Iran, Southeast Asia, Africa and Central and South America are as wonderfully mysterious as the places in which they originated and the individuals for whom they were intended.  At times the material ingenuity displayed in ankle bracelets originating from somewhere far south and east of the Sahara, which are made of cowrie shells/bits of buffalo bone/worn Venetian glass beads/snake skin/elephant hair, cause me to question notions of 'modernity' and 'primitiveness;' the politics and particulars of stones and/or materials deemed 'precious' or 'semi-precious' or simply 'natural;' as well as the definition of 'beauty' and its' troubling legacy.  Tribal jewelry, traditionally made to celebrate pivotal points in an individual's life passage, were passed from generation to generation and in that process acquired the patina of age which we feel as we touch and caress these mementos.  After being around these cherished objects, almost intuitively we are attuned to the stories contained in them; and if we can--just for a second or two--silence the inner chatter within our time-driven/technologically-dependent/ego-centric self, the path of The Other may be experienced, or so it is alleged in the sacred writings of most pre-historic cultures.  Enough chatter, I say.  The beaded collar-necklaces of the Massai tribes of Kenya drive me wild with desire, as does almost any object of adornment that incorporates feathers, such as head-pieces from Cameroon and Brazil.  Equally delirious are Xhosa collars from South Africa, Kuchi tribal necklaces from India, gypsy earrings from Afghanistan, Tuareg rings, chunky nose-rings from Gujarat, and the list continues endlessly through a collector's lifetime. 

Beautiful examples of tribal craftsmanship, originality, and ingenuity can be viewed at museums in most major cities; seen on display at national and international exhibitions and fairs which focus on tribal art(artifacts); or in independent galleries and import shops that can be found through a simple Internet search.  For those of us who live within the DC metropolitan area, exquisite pieces of tribal jewelry can be seen and acquired at two small shops run by knowledgeable and extremely fair dealers; these establishments are Woven History near Eastern Market on 7th Street SE, Washington DC; please ask for Mehmet.  The other (and a bit of a secret long guarded by collectors/designers/artists) is Affrica Gallery, a small private gallery near Dupont Circle.  For an appointment, one may call the proprietress at 202 745-7272.

I look forward to having you back tomorrow for day three of 'Objects of Desire.'




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