The Power of Proverbs – Ashanti Linguist's Staffs

Friday, June 09, 2017

In the Ashanti kingdom, royal dignitaries called Akyeame are responsible for relating the king's words to the people through proverbs , a highly valued oral tradition. To symbolize their position, Akyeame hold staffs with hand carved finials, each representing a well known proverb, story or moral lesson. The visual language conveyed by the staff finials is an art form in its own right, recognized and celebrated by all in the kingdom....

Retaining Title – The Provenance of Antique Chinese Furniture

Friday, June 02, 2017

The dictionary definition of provenance simply states it is the history of ownership of art and antiques; but this concept, while it can be used to gauge the value of western antiques, does not apply to furniture made in imperial China. This blog details what makes or informs antique Chinese furniture compared to the western idea of provenance....

365 Memorial Days per Year - Ancestor Worship Around the World

Friday, May 26, 2017

Ancestor worship is a religious practice based on the belief that deceased family members have a continued existence, that the spirits of deceased ancestors will look after the family, take an interest in the affairs of the world, and possess the ability to influence the fortune of the living. Ancestor worship is everywhere in the world. We may not always acknowledge the practice as a religious practice or a form of worship, but each time we look at a photo of a dear deceased relative or even an important historical figure, and ask what they would do under a particular set of circumstances we are engaging in this sort of veneration, or worship, which could also be described as a connection....

Nature’s Alchemy – Petrified Wood

Friday, May 19, 2017

The word 'petrify' comes from the Latin term petra, meaning to 'become stone.' While the mythological Medusa can turn anyone who meets her eyes into stone in a matter of seconds, in nature the process takes far longer. This process is known as petrifaction or petrification. It is the process occurring when water that is rich with inorganic minerals passes slowly through organic matter, replacing its cellular structure with the minerals in the water. Some estimates say it takes between ten to several hundred million years or more for wood to turn to stone or more accurately, for wood to fossilize. To put this in perspective, some of the petrified wood we see today grew alongside the dinosaurs; some may be considerably older. In fact, like the dinosaurs, many species of petrified wood are now extinct....

Exercising Feminine Power - Maternity Figures in Traditional African Art

Thursday, May 11, 2017

In traditional African art, which generally refers to the art of sub-Saharan Africa, the concept of motherhood and maternity is a theme surfacing in just about every tribal group. Although most societies in Africa could be viewed as paternalistic or male dominated, artfully rendered maternity figures idealizing and glorifying women were commonplace. Yet, the purpose of this art was not simply to glorify women. This blog discusses the background, interpretation and examples of maternity figures in traditional African art....

Antique Chinese Furniture – A Quick Primer

Friday, May 05, 2017

The golden age of furniture making came to an end with the decline of the Qing dynasty. This dynasty produced some of the finest examples of antique Chinese furniture. Many of the pieces from this time were innovative in nature, yet still adhered to traditional forms and designs passed down through hundreds of years. However, during the Cultural Revolution, which lasted from 1966-1976, a great deal of antique Chinese furniture, both classical and vernacular, was confiscated – and in many cases burned – by the government for representing the bourgeoisie class...

Indonesian Buddhas – A Legacy in Stone

Friday, April 28, 2017

The original Buddha, Sakyamuni Gautama, or Gautama Siddhartha, was born in India in the 6th-5th century BCE. Born into a noble family, he left his privileged life to lead the life of a wandering ascetic and thinker. Meditating on the human condition one night while sitting under a Bodi tree, he awoke to find he had realized nirvana, a heavenly state of absolute beatitude and would not be reborn again. He spent the rest of his life as a preacher, his teachings contained in a series of Buddhist documents called the Sutras. Buddha never projected himself as a divine entity or master, demanding from his follower’s only personal attainment through meditation and reflection; the object being to liberate oneself from the endless cycle of birth and rebirth to reach nirvana....

Symbolic Stone – Indian Temple Ornamentation

Saturday, April 22, 2017

As one would expect from any ancient culture, over time India has developed an exceptionally rich architectural heritage. This is evident in famous structures such as the Taj Mahal and the Ajanta Caves, for example; but it also becomes apparent in countless other structures dotting the entire country. Perhaps the greatest contribution of Indian architecture is the spiritual content found in many “buildings,” many unrivaled in their local areas in terms of grandeur and the exhibition of material wealth; and when it comes to such structures none are more memorable than temples. Many, many books are devoted to Indian architecture and to the splendor of Indian temples. The purpose of this blog is not to analyze the different types of temple architecture, but instead, to briefly describe a cross section of the Indian temple ornamentation...

Certified Authentic - The True Nature of Authenticity

Friday, April 07, 2017

In selling distinctive collectibles, art and furnishings from all over the world – both antique and contemporary - the question of authenticity inevitably arises. Historically, at PRIMITIVE, our definition of authentic was simple: authentic meant what we presented was used and/or intended for use by the indigenous people. This was especially true many years ago when our focus was exclusively on unique, culturally significant material. In its original context, authentic meant you would find genuine, real objects and furnishings instead of those made purely for export or tourism....

Indian Bronze Pilgrimage Statues

Friday, March 31, 2017

The history of bronze metal casting in India and Nepal goes back thousands of years and is shrouded in the mist of antiquity. Originally, miniature images of Hindu deities came into existence to fulfill the religious and spiritual needs of local villagers. It is theorized their small size – from 1 ½ to 6 inches in height – came about so they could be carried in a small bag for worship when villagers set out on a pilgrimage or journey, oftentimes to make an offering of the bronze sculpture itself....

Recent Posts



    Blog Posts
    1. Appreciating Buddhist Art: Part Four – Ritual Tools and Symbols Glen Joffe 18-Aug-2017
    2. Tutsi Basketry – World Class Weaving Glen Joffe 11-Aug-2017
    3. Creating Sacred Space – Building a Meditation Room Glen Joffe 04-Aug-2017
    4. Nature’s Handiwork – Introduction to Gongshi Glen Joffe 28-Jul-2017
    Stories & Descriptions

    Discover more information about the culture and history behind many of these beautiful select objects, artifacts, antiques and furnishings–click here

    “Cultural objects tell stories; and in each story a simple message is found—all cultures are the same, we just express ourselves differentlyGLEN JOFFE, OWNER