Leicester

Tribal art trends sparks bidding war for African spear

Luba spear Image copyright Gildings
Image caption Gildings said six bidders had competed for the spear

Strong demand for vintage tribal artefacts helped an African spear sell for more than 50 times its estimate, an auction house has said.

Thought to be at least 100 years old, the 5ft 5in (167cm) wood and steel ceremonial staff was brought to an auction house in Leicestershire.

Originally valued at £200 to £300, six bidders from across the world competed to land the spear.

It eventually sold to a European collector for £18,500.

WhatsApp bid

A spokesman for Market Harborough-based Gildings said a local seller had brought the staff to one of its regular valuation days.

The item, which features two carved heads representing spirits, was likely to have originated from the Luba state of Central Africa, now part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

He said there was currently very strong interest in artefacts from that region among the academic world and the price it fetched reflected its quality, intricate design and the fact it would have been owned by a very powerful member of the tribe.

Six bidders from across the world competed in the auction via telephone, online bidding and a WhatsApp call on 7 January.

The spokesman said: "The tribal art market has had the potential to throw up this kind of result.

"The significance of the item and its status, having come from a prominent figure, it all adds to its cache, with the academic world prepared to pay a sizeable amount."

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