hck-1112-4_headrest_v_  hck-1112-4_headrest_34p_

HCK 1112-4 – SOLD

Dinka, Sudan

H: 17 cm (6,7″), W: 40 cm (15,7″)

Provenance: Private Belgian collection.

Headrests are used as pillows to help someone to have good sleep. They also used as a comfort to help protect ceremonial coiffure. In some occasions headrests are used as stool. As a personal object, the headrest has become part of the individual. Usually, when the person died, he is buried with his headrest. Sometimes the headrest is passed on to his heir, who would treat it with respect because this wooden piece embodies the spirit of the deceased person.

The Dinka are a herder Nilotic group which is a group of peoples from the Nile Basin speaking Nilo-Saharan languages, which are part of the northwestern Congo, Western Ethiopia, Southern Uganda and Kenya, northern Tanzania, and southern Sudan. These groups move according to the seasons from place to place in the search of water and gazing land for good pasturage. The Dinka inhabit the vast savanna of southern Sudan in Africa. Although the Dinka are the largest ethnic group in Sudan, their historical background remains obscured. As far as we know, the Dinka settled in the area around 1800 and often have been often in conflict with their neighboring peoples, such as the Atuot. Their reputation as redoubtable warriors comes from their successfully defense against the Ottoman centuries ago. Being a Valiant warrior is an important value the Dinka transmits to the youth. This value is taught through the initiation of young boys. At the end of the initiation, the boys are presented with a spear, a club and a shield, the equipment of a warrior. The lifestyle of the Dinka is that of the nomad and herders. Today Dinka people raise cattle and practice agriculture. Little is known about their art. However, Dinka personal and body adornments are among the most astonishing on the all continent.

The Dinka nomadic lifestyle is reflected in their art. In fact, the Dinka have excelled in the production of small objects, easy to carry. Stools and headrests are among these precious objects. Dinka headrests, also used as a stool or neck rest, are carved from a single piece of yellowish brown wood and consist of three to four-legged stable seats, carved separately from one another. Inmost of the cases they are made from one piece. The seats have various forms and usually narrow curved with rounded corners, slightly concave along its length and convex across its width, with a convex underside. Some have zoomorphic motifs which include birds, antelope, and giraffe.

These stools and headrests are known as thoch (stool), and used as a headrest and seat by both old men and women. They are also used to protect elaborate coiffure. In the Dinka society and neighboring peoples, headrests like this are very personal. They are believed to house the soul of the owner. In some sources, similar stools or headrests have been attributed to the Bongo people living in the Dinka and Bari neighborhood.

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