DAN Dancing with Spoons - La danse des cuillères

Extraordinary ancient Dogon mask from Mali West Africa

Low Niger Bronze bell head, Nigeria

For TEFAF Maastricht 2019, and for his 19th participation Bernard de Grunne will present a unique group of eight anthropomorphic spoons from the Dan tribe in Ivory Coast. Bernard de Grunne will publish a comprehensive catalogue raisonné of a corpus of the 42 human shaped Dan spoons known together with a bilingual translation of a remarkable essay on this topic originally published in German by Hans Himmelheber in 1965 in German, as well as Dr. Eberhard Fischer’s comments. “Those ceremonial spoons, called Wa Ke Mia ("spoon associated with feasts"), are the badges of prestige of the Wunkirle – the most hospitable woman in a village or village quarter – and they embody her talents and her generosity. The largeness of the spoon’s receptacle demonstrates the Wunkirle’s generosity, as it reveals the amount of rice she is willing to give. The wide bowl is said to represent "the rice-filled womb of the spoon", i.e. of the spirit it reifies. This individual spirit will obviously help the most hospitable woman accomplish her magnanimous and generous tasks. Plastically speaking, those works reflect the fundamental features of Dan aesthetics: what with their half-bent legs, their robust and shapely calves, the delicacy of the deeply carved integumentary motives that are enhanced by kaolin highlights and glistening dark patina, they make up beautifully balanced sculptures.” Extract of Bernard de Grunne essay in Bernard de Grunne – Hans Himmelheber – Eberhard Fischer, DAN Dancing with Spoons, 2019
For TEFAF Maastricht 2019, and for his 19th participation Bernard de Grunne will present a unique group of eight anthropomorphic spoons from the Dan tribe in Ivory Coast.
Bernard de Grunne will publish a comprehensive catalogue raisonné of a corpus of the 42 human shaped Dan spoons known together with a bilingual translation of a remarkable essay on this topic originally published in German by Hans Himmelheber in 1965 in German, as well as Dr. Eberhard Fischer’s comments.

“Those ceremonial spoons, called Wa Ke Mia ("spoon associated with feasts"), are the badges of prestige of the Wunkirle – the most hospitable woman in a village or village quarter – and they embody her talents and her generosity. The largeness of the spoon’s receptacle demonstrates the Wunkirle’s generosity, as it reveals the amount of rice she is willing to give. The wide bowl is said to represent "the rice-filled womb of the spoon", i.e. of the spirit it reifies. This individual spirit will obviously help the most hospitable woman accomplish her magnanimous and generous tasks.
Plastically speaking, those works reflect the fundamental features of Dan aesthetics: what with their half-bent legs, their robust and shapely calves, the delicacy of the deeply carved integumentary motives that are enhanced by kaolin highlights and glistening dark patina, they make up beautifully balanced sculptures.”
Extract of Bernard de Grunne essay in Bernard de Grunne – Hans Himmelheber – Eberhard Fischer, DAN Dancing with Spoons, 2019