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Rare tribal headrests for US auction

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The Graham Beck Collection of African and Oceanic Headrests, one of the finest private collections of headrests in the world, is due to be auctioned by Bonhams New York on November 11.

The Graham Beck Collection of African and Oceanic Headrests, one of the finest private collections of headrests in the world, is due to be auctioned by Bonhams New York on November 11.

The collection was acquired in 2005 by the Beck family, of the Western Cape wine estate, from a UK collector. Used both practically and ritually, the headrests show a variety of design and beauty created by master carvers.

The designs reflected marital and wealth status of their owners and served as tribal communication devices with ancestors.

The artistic headrests’ practical benefit was important for nomad shepherds to keep their heads off the ground while sleeping in wild terrain where insects could crawl into nostrils and ears.

Highlights of the auction include:

* A Tsonga/Shangaan headrest from SA’s Limpopo province (pictured) with an estimate of up to $30000 (almost R440000).

* A headrest from the Tsonga people of SA or southern Zimbabwe ($30000).

* A Shona “Mutsago” headrest from southern Zimbabwe ($50000).

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