Monday, March 30, 2009

In remembrance - Tyler Quam

We have just received word that Zuni carver, Tyler Quam, has passed away.

He was a member of a family of carvers well known for their work. Tyler's sisters are Prudencia Quam, Georgette Quam His brothers are Eldred and Andrew Quam. He was also father of 2 children with Joanna Cheama.

We ask you to join us in prayers for the family at this time.

Tribal Art - Zemanek-Munster Tribal Arts Auction struggles

According to Web sources, the most recent Zemanek-Munster tribal art auction, held twice a year, attracted a disappointing response.

As a result, the auctioneer has initiated an aftersale to move unsold lots.

For example, this is lot 138, a heddle pulley

Heddle pulley, Baule, Elfenbeinküste

Baule - shaped corpus with incised ornaments, front and backside carved with a buffalo head, bobbin missing, min. dam., slight signs of abrasion, on wooden plate

Price: 750 €

Or this example, lot 111, a stool

Stool, Gurunsi, Burkina Faso

Gurunsi, Burkina Faso - light brown wood, spotty patina, of simple form, four strong legs supporting a nearly rectangular, slightly hollowed seat, min. dam., signs of usage and abrasion

Price: 300 €

Or this, lot 92, ape mask "ngon"

Ape mask "ngon", Bamana, Mali

Bamana, Mali - wood, shiny blackish brown patina, of oval form, a slightly protruding forehead, open worked eyes in round cavities, flanking a triangular, slightly raised nose with drilled nostrils, a broad opened mouth underneath, framed by ears with drilled holes, pierced around the rim, min. dam., slight signs of abrasion, fissures; worn by the initiates of the "koré" society. They used animal masks, thus illustrating the relationship of humans with their own animalistic features.

Price: 2500 €

You can view these and some 258 other lots at Zemanek-Munster's web site. Or see similar items of African and Oceanic tribal art at TribalWorks .

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tribal Art - have some fun. Guess the carver.

Often we get confused about who carved what.

Not that we didn't know and can't look it up.

But we look at a carving we have had for a while and we wonder, "Who carved that?"

Of course when we look it up in our records we say, "Of course, that's who the carver was."

So we thought we might turn it into a game and you might enjoy playing.

Is it Emery Eriacho?

Or Elroy Pablito?

Or a Quandelacy?








If you guessed it was a Quandelacy, you must know a little something about fetish carvers.

But we're not done yet.

Which Quandelacy?

Click here to find out

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tribal Art - New, 'old' fetishes on Zuni Link

We have dipped into our personal collection to present a few bona fide vintage fetish carvings from Zuni. They all have some of the magic of carvings that predate the attempts to carve for market.

We are not knocking the newer carvings. Many of them are excellent beyond measure. If they are on our site, they definitely pass our personal test for excellence and value (for price). We cherry pick the best from the best.

But the old ones have a certain soulful quality that enhances their value beyond any price tag. Nevertheless, they have price tags and you can find out by visiting our ZuniLink web site page for Vintage and Old Fetishes.

We believe they all are pre-1970.

Here are a few examples:

Visit us at ZuniLink for more. We also offer web sites that feature Native American Indian jewelry, Native American Pueblo pottery and a pot-pourri of African, Australian, Arctic and Navajo folk art.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Tribal Art - Investing in beauty and life enrichment

According to an arts and antiques newsletter, the economy is having a peculiar effect on art and collectible purchases.

To quote, "The Finer Things", a fine art gallery in New York and Cincinnati, "has seen requests for quality antiques, fine art and jewelry increase ten-fold in the past few months."

It seems that when 401Ks and retirement/investment funds based in securities go south, investors look for items of solid, three-dimensional value.

I am not very surprised. At the very least, a treasured object is something you can look at, enjoy and have enrich life even if the value doesn't go up.

(Incidentally, we always encourage buyers not to buy for investment. Art and collectibles are highly undependable as potential investments. They can just as easily go down in monetary value as appreciate. Buy out of love and a desire to have an object in you life. Those are experiences you can't discount. They will last forever.)

For previews of how objects of tribal art can make you smile and feel good, check out our web sites at,, and

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Tribal Art - Whitehawk announces 2009 shows

Whitehawk has announced the dates and venues for its 2009 Ethnographic Art Show and 2009 Antique Indian Art Show.

The Ethnographic Art Show, the 26th annual staging, will run Saturday and Sunday, August 15 and 16, 2009 from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, with a preview opening on Friday, August 14, 2009 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM.

The 31st annual Antique Indian Art Show will have a preview opening on Monday, August 17, 2009 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM, followed by shows on Tuesday and Wednesday, August 18 and 19, 2009 from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Both shows are to be held at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center.

The shows are harbingers of the world-famous Santa Fe Indian Market, which will take place throughout downtown Santa Fe on Saturday, August 23 and Sunday, August 24, 2009.

The Whitehawk shows always are well-attended and include outstanding dealers and other exhibitors. For more information about the Whitehawk Shows, visit For more information about Indian Market, go to, the web site for the South West Association for Indian Arts.Street scene at Indian Market 2008. Artists' Booths line San Francisco Street,
with St. Francis Cathedral in the background.

This particular week in Santa Fe is a time of incessant activity. Accommodations book up early. If you don't have your place to stay already, its important to line it up now. When doing so, consider that Santa Fe Trails, the local bus company, runs shuttles from certain parking areas so it is not necessary to stay right on top of the action.

If you can't find vacancies in Santa Fe, an alternative is to stay in Albuquerque and ride the new Railrunner train service from Albuquerque to Santa Fe. There's also a Days Inn in Bernalillo that is just two blocks from the local stop of the Railrunner. Actually, we will probably ride the Railrunner at least one day while there, even though we have a local Santa Fe room booked, simply because I am kind of nutty about trains.

Yes, this is rather early notice. But, with Indian Market week, if you don't act fast, you lose out.

As indicated, Susanne and William Waites plan to be in New Mexico for Indian Market and associated events. As collectors and dealers in tribal art, we enjoy seeing all of our old friend artists and their latest work, and all of our fellow dealers.

Items acquired at the time eventually appear on our Web sites: featuring top quality fetish carvings by Zunis, Cochitis and residents of San Felipe Pueblo; for outstanding and unique items of handmade Indian jewelry; for creations of historic and contemporary Pueblo and Native American pottery. We also offer African tribal art, Australian Aboriginal art, Arctic-Inuit art and Navajo Folk Art at our fourth Web site,

Thanks for reading. If you plan to be in Santa Fe when we are, give us a shout now and we will look for opportunities to meet up there.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tribal Art - Look for us on AboutUsWiki

Our Native Pottery Link site has now been listed on AboutUsWiki.

Check it out at

This is a wiki, an interactive reference guide for all sorts of internet subjects.


Church Street Cafe, Old Town, Albuquerque, NM

As we anticipate our next journey to New Mexico, we reminisce about one of our favorite palces to eat while there. The Church Street Cafe in Old Town behind San Felipe Church.

The rear garden is a sensual treat that adds to the delightful menu of Southwestern dishes.

We enjoy watching this and hope you will too.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Tribal Art - Molly Murphy, Oglala artist wins Best of Heard Show

"Absolutely magnificent", was the rave given by Barbara Korn, Heard Museum Show official, to the Best of Show winning work of Oglala Sioux bead work artist, Molly Murphy.

Murphy's entry, titled "Past is Prologue", was a Salish-style cradle board, beaded in light blue turquoise.

Lovers of Native American tribal art recognize the Heard Museum Fair and Market as one of the pre-eminent competitions in the world of Native art. Murphy's work was in competition with seven other first place winners in other categories, representing an even more significant win.

The show attracted entries from more than 700 Indian artists. Crowds visiting the weekend festival were estimated at 20,000, a 14% increase over last year's attendance. This speaks well for the vitality and popularity of Native American Indian art

Murphy also won a Second Place award in the beading category with a sewing box covered in red wool and ornate beading.

Murphy reported that the cradle board was purchased by collectors from New Jersey, who have several grandchildren, including a very recent one.

More information about Murphy's win is available at the Missoulian, a Missoula, MT newspaper.

As fans of beautiful Native American bead work and all Native Tribal Art, Susanne & William Ernest Waites, providers of tribal art at,, and, salute Molly Murphy for her extraordinary work and her impressive win.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Tribal Art - by Talia Quandelacy, Zuni carver

Last summer we visited with Talia Quandelacy and acquired some of her very nicely done work.

Here's a brief video of that pleasant encounter.

Brought to you by two of Talia's greatest fans, Susanne and William Waites of

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Tour of the Sheik Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi

It may be a stretch to consider Abu Dhabi among tribal art resources. At, least in the manner we normally define it.

But we visited it in February and had fabulous exposure to the local culture, including the Sheik Zayed Mosque - the third largest mosque in the world.

We were very impressed with our tour of the mosque, a video of which is embedded here.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Tribal Art - Saving the Planet online

Whether or not you believe in man-made global warming – personally, I am an agnostic - it turns out that you may be reducing your impact on the planet by purchasing items online instead of in-person.

The Carnegie Mellon Green Design Institute put together a study that purports to prove that e-commerce not only uses less energy but also reduces the carbon footprint of retailing by one-third vs. bricks-and-mortar retailing.

The team, led by H. Scott Matthews, compared energy consumption and CO2 emissions required to deliver a small thumb drive to a customer via a shopping trip to a store vs. buying and shipping from an online site.

According to the study, as reported in the Wall Street Journal, the highest environmental cost of traditional shopping is the drive by car to the store. (This was based on an estimate of an average shopping round-trip being 14 miles, with three different items purchased on a trip.)

But what about the environmental cost of delivery to you home? The researchers determined that the “last-mile” cost of delivering a package as part of a UPS delivery truck’s trip - in which numerous packages are delivered to different addresses – requires significantly less energy per package.

Okay, what about the cost of data centers and computers? Well, it turns out that, on average the incremental costs of running data centers and computers, beyond the energy costs that are incurred by businesses tracking inventory and consumers using computers for other tasks, is insignificant.

To be fair, the extra packaging to ship safely adds mare cost than carrying an item home in shopping bag. In addition, using air mail or personalized express shipping options can increase the impact on the environment. On the other hand, using the postal service3 to ship has almost no incremental cost since the time and resources are already being used for normal mail delivery.

There is one way the traditional retailing has less impact on the environment than e-commerce; if you walk to the store. Of course, that seldom applies to shopping for tribal art since so few of us live down he stet from a tribal art gallery.

While we are on the subject of tribal art, let’s reflect on its benign environmental impact.

Very little if any non-renewable energy is used in the making of tribal art. True, some Native American carvers use electrically-driven carving tools. But then they start with natural materials, stone, wood, semi-precious gems, silver, gold and clay with very little energy expended in manufacturing and very little wasted material.

For example, Native American potters create their works the traditional way. They mine the clay by hand. They form it by hand. They fire in pits using wood. They polish by hand with smoothing stones.

Finally, buying tribal art supports a process and practice that has been place for generations, and the artists who were among the first to recognize the importance of honoring Mother Earth.

This report is brought to you by Susanne and William Waites, proprietors of Aboriginals: Art of the First Person, with Web sites at, featuring Zuni and other Native American carvings;, featuring the finest in Native American Indian jewelry; Native-PotteryLink, featuring handmade Indian pottery from Native Pueblos; and, combining triabl art from African, Australian Aboriginal art, Arctic art and Navajo folk art.

We are gratified to be able to bring this outstanding tribal work to your attention, on behalf of the artists (and the planet).

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Tribal Art - More on the question of authenticity

The Tribal Beat reports on the San Francisco Tribal & Textile Show recently held at Fort Mason.

His take on the state of the market is interesting. Realistic, if a little depressing. But I am convinced that the market for tribal art will come blazing back.

He also writes about the motives of "experts" called in to vet objects proposed for inclusion in the show. It partially agrees with my feelings about asking other dealers for opinions. I continue to feel it is a good precaution. Yet, as the Tribal Beat suggests. Everything is not fair and always in the buyer's (or the business's) best interest.

Brought to you courtesy of William and Susanne Waites, proprietors of,,,

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Tribal Art - Where was it made?

I find myself lately checking everything I buy for the “Made in” label.

From shoes to shirts to shorts, I want to know if they were made in America and, if not, where they were made.

I have my own standards about what countries of origin I choose to support with my purchases. I would not ask anyone to make the same decisions. But, I do encourage everyone to be aware of where an item they are buying was made. Then do as you choose.

As far as tribal art is concerned, the same procedure should be followed. It will not be quite as easy because labeling is not as consistent among tribal art objects.

It is, nevertheless, important to try to learn where that object of your artistic affection was created.

Despite laws to the contrary, “Indian-like” items continue to find their way into the United States. Some times they are identified with slightly misleading terms such as “Native-American-style” or “Native-made” (native of what country?).

Mind you, this is not to denigrate the artistry of creators in other countries. Just as faux Rolex watches may be fine pieces of work, they are not true Rolexes. Promoting them as such is selling something to buyers that is not what they think it is.

When it comes to tribal art, there is a premium price willingly paid for the pedigree of an item actually made by a tribal member, in a tribal tradition. Whether it’s Native American, African tribal, Inuit or Australian Aboriginal, a copy made to look like a genuine item and represented as such, is a form of theft.

Unfortunately, when a buyer is misled, they may never realize that what they have is a replica, not the real thing. They may even, innocently or knowingly, resell the item with the same erroneous provenance. In the world of fine arts, periodically a Masters painting emerges as having been a copy. Tracking down the original source of the fake can result in some recompense for buyers down the line. It is, however, more difficult to do this in a field where thousands of items come out of the shadows on a regular basis.

So, how can you protect yourself?

First and second, only do business with someone you know, trust and who has a reputation for standing behind what they sell.

Third, ask. Don’t be reluctant to ask the seller up front and forcefully whether or not the item is authentic, where the seller acquired it and if he or she knows its history. If you don’t get a straight answer, be warned.

Fourth, be suspicious of a price that seems too low. Few words are more proven than the old axioms, “you get what you pay for” and “if it seems to good to be true, it probably is.”

Fifth, if you think you are about to be taken, turn to experts. Ask if you can show the item to another authority. And don’t settle for one opinion. Tribal art dealers are notoriously competitive. They are not beyond “trashing” a potential purchase so that they can sell you something instead. Corroborate any opinion.

Sixth, if you do get taken, try to return the item for a refund. If you get a hard time, threaten to go to the BBB or the Indian Arts and Crafts Association or your State’s Attorney General. As a last resort, actually complain to those authorities.

Finally, use the internet to spread the word about fraudulent practitioners. There are a number of Web sites that encourage reviews of quality and service. Just be sure to speak only facts and avoid slams and insults that could lead to a defamation suit.

A few words about signatures.

Signatures are an important way to determine the authenticity of a work of art. Yet, not all artists sign their work. Some do. Some don’t. Antiques often were not signed. Occasionally, a signature is added to look-alike to try to pass it off as the real work of an artist.

Anyone who has watched Antiques Roadshow on Public Television knows how often a Tiffany signed item turns not to be a Tiffany product.

With or without a signature, get a written assurance of the seller as to the origin of the item. Ask for a Certificate of Authenticity. You are entitled to it as part of your purchase.


A crass commercial notation: At all of our Web sites -,, and - we guarantee the authenticity of everything we sell. Our motto is, "It is what we tell you it is or you get your purchase price back when you return it."