King’s Auctions Inc presents esteemed Timothy Koock collection of religious and indigenous African art, artifacts, relics and ceremonial objects, March 5

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Mbulu Ngulu, or reliquary guardian figure, created by Kota people of modern-day Gabon expected to sell for $75,000-$150,000

AUSTIN, Texas – On Sunday, March 5, starting at 12 noon Eastern time, King’s Auctions Inc will present a premier ethnographic sale titled Aboriginal Ritual Ware, Asian & Religious Art. The 222-lot auction features the collection of Timothy Koock of Fredericksburg, Texas, and includes an impressive array of religious art, icons, Indigenous African art, artifacts, tools and ceremonial objects from the 19th and 20th centuries. Many of Mr Koock’s most treasured pieces were acquired at Sotheby’s and Christie’s auctions. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers

Mbulu Ngulu, or reliquary guardian figure, created by the Kota people in what is now Gabon, Africa. Estimate $75,000-$150,000
Mbulu Ngulu, or reliquary guardian figure, created by the Kota people in what is now Gabon, Africa. Estimate $75,000-$150,000

A likely top-lot candidate is a reliquary Mbulu Ngulu, or guardian figure, created by the Kota people, a community living in the part of central Africa now known as Gabon. The Kota used these figures to protect and identify the revered bones of family ancestors. They believed that the relics of important men and women retained power after death, providing protection and good fortune to their descendants. The figure to be auctioned has been assigned a pre-sale estimate of $75,000-$150,000.

The Kota figure is one of several important works of Indigenous African art in the March 5 auction. Another standout is what is known as an “Oshe,” or female Shango figure, created by the Yoruba people in what is now Nigeria. Sculpted from wood and standing 15 inches tall, the piece displays a distinctive bow-like finial atop a cap-like headdress. Its estimate is $6,000-$50,000.

Another Indigenous African art highlight is a pair of male and female figurines by the Baoule people, who live in the region now called Cote d’Ivoire, or the Ivory Coast. Carved from wood, each figure is 20 inches high and is depicted sitting on a stool. They share similar facial features, such as connected arched eyebrows and long, thin noses with broad nostrils. Other details distinguish them by gender. The female figure wears a conical headdress and a short ponytail at the base of her neck, as well as a band across her breasts, while the male figure has a beard and wide, muscular shoulders. Together, the figures are estimated at $7,500-$50,000.

Leading the Asian art offerings is a Burmese Buddha giltwood palin, or throne, described the auction catalog as “grandiose.” The palin holds great significance in Burmese culture, and features prominently in Burma’s architecture and the Buddhist iconography of the country, which is now known as Myanmar. The creation of a palin was a serious undertaking. Hereditary palace carpenters would not start work until astrologers chose an auspicious time for them to begin, and the project would have been inaugurated by a royal ceremony held specifically to please the gods. This example measures 37.5 by 30.5 inches and is estimated at $18,000-$50,000.

Spanish Colonial works add their own cultural beauty to the sale. Among them is a visually striking repousse silver santo (saint) halo, fashioned with more than a dozen rays that end in seven-point stars. The santo halo features traditional colonial scroll and foliate designs centered on a winged angel. It was designed to crown a life-size carved wooden santo or Madonna statue. Measuring 16 by 16 inches, it comes to auction with a $1,000-$3,200 estimate.

Another Spanish Colonial work of note is a retablo oil-on-tin painting that portrays San Camilo de Lelis, an Italian catholic priest who founded a namesake religious order whose members tend to the sick. The black-clad saint is shown caring for a bedridden man as three kneeling priests pray for him and an angel watches over the scene. The retablo measures 14 by 10 inches and is estimated at $2,000-$50,000.

Also on offer is an articulated santo figure displayed under a glass dome. The figure appears to be female and has moveable joints at the shoulder and elbow. She is posed with her hands above her head and is shown glancing up, with an anguished expression on her face. This artwork is estimated at $8,000-$50,000.

Completing the list of top highlights is a 27-by-31-inch contemporary work by Texas-based artist Michael Tracy (American, b. 1943-). Titled Betrayed by a Kiss I, the iconographic painting is encased in tin. Its description in the auction catalog notes that the artwork depicts “a reenactment of a Mesoamerican prayer,” as Tracy puts it, and is contextualized (or de-contextualized) through mostly illegible text scrawled in primitive, rigid, and angular lettering. Lacking any punctuation or spacing – a mode that is loosely in line with Tracy’s own writing style – the accompanying text is suggestive of a dreamlike progression, syncing up with the imagery in a cryptic way. This artwork is expected to reach a winning bid in the range of $20,000-$50,000.

King’s Auctions Inc’s March 5, 2023 Aboriginal Ritual Ware, Asian & Religious Art sale featuring the Timothy Koock collection will start at 12 noon EST. The full catalog is available to view online now, with absentee and Internet live bidding through LiveAuctioneers. For questions about any item in the sale, please call 310-857-8367 or email [email protected].

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