230622 - Antique Terracotta Ethiopian Axumite Kingdom Falasha head - Ethiopia.


Antique Terracotta Ethiopian Axumite Kingdom Falasha head - Ethiopia.

This superb and highly characteristic Falasha head measures 9 cm in height. 

This Falasha head was collected in my private collection in 1997.

Sculptures with a characteristic face with a beautifully modeled beard of the cephalomorphic creations of the Falasha people.

It has a typical elongated shape, a strong nose, very high and slender. Likewise, the incised mouth, as well as the eyes, the pupils of which are very round, are thickly modeled, as are the fleshy and well-marked ears. The head has a bald skull.

An Ethiopian Axum civilization terracotta Falasha head.

Approx. 10th-12th century AD.

This sculpture of a head comes from Axum, the most ancient city in Ethiopia, located on the Red Sea. Because of its location Axum was an important port and center of trade. The most famous artworks in the city are 119 towers, called stelae. They are made of granite and they mark gravesites. The largest Axumite stela is over 100 feet long. This small head, only 9 cm high, might have been buried with an important person. It is made of terracotta, a hard, semifired waterproof ceramic clay. 

This modelled and moulded human heads have been found at Aksum since the 1950's, mostly by diplomatic amateurs but some during excavations by the British Institute in East Africa. The National Museum in Addis Abababa, have a number of similar heads.

The Falasha, Jews from Ethiopia, are emigrants who first settled on the coasts of Abyssinia and finally in Ethiopia, in the highlands. Its origin seems to be from the Dan tribe, exiled by the Assyrians in 732 BC; which tribe would have spread in northern Arabia, as well as in Yemen.

The Falasha are a group of people in Ethiopia who hold the Jewish faith but use Ge'ez rather than Hebrew as a liturgical language. The Falashas were not formally recognized as Jews until 1975, and many of them were airlifted to Israel in 1984–85 and after.

Lit.: Sotheby's African and Oceanic Art - New York - 19 November 1999. Lot 343

Christie's - Important Tribal Art and Antiquities from the Collection of A. McCarty-Cooper - New York 19 May 1992 Lot 176