Urhobo eshe shrine post from Niger Delta to auction for $90,000

A circa 1890 Urhobo eshe shrine post, valued at $70,000-90,000, is to headline The Cobbs Auctioneers' sale of African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian art in New Hampshire on November 2.

Urhobo Eshe Cobb
The eshe is depicted with a ritual knife and a prestige cup

The post features a representation of a seated ancestral figure, known as an eshe, wearing a hat below an upper column depicting zoomorphic and human iconography.

The Urhobo live along the Niger Delta and have a long tradition of honouring ancestors. This particular example represents Ovwha - a local palm oil trader who brought great prosperity to his village.  

A Limba or Loko shrine figure dating to the end of the 19th century is valued at $60,000-90,000.

Limba Loko figure Cobb
The Limba or Loko figure dates to the late 19th century

The figure was probably carved by the Limba or Loko people in the area of Africa that is now Sierra Leone. It features a hollow chest and head to allow for the insertion of offerings.

A pair of rare Hemba figures from the Democratic Republic of Congo are offered as a single lot with an estimate of $50,000-70,000.

The male and female figures feature simple, archaic carved faces. The male carries a staff, while the female is adorned with a grass skirt and a heavy iron necklace.

Another Hemba figure, this time an ancestral figure known as a singiti, carries an estimate of $20,000-30,000.

The Hemba, like many tribal peoples, worshipped their ancestors - and this figure would have been used in ceremonies honouring past deeds.

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