Lot 55: Antique Carved Somali Barshin
November 12, 2016
Sarasota, FL, USALive Auction
Description: Antique Carved Wood Barshin or Headrest from the Boni or Somali people, Ethiopia, East Africa. Dimensions: 7 x 6 x 3 in. and is carved from a single piece of fine-grained wood known as hagar in Somali or yucub wood. Somali and Boni nomads make use of two types of headrests: one with a single cylindrical supporting column and one with a double column. It appears that the different styles are for men of different status, with the single-columned variety for young men and the double-columned variety, such as the example on offer, reserved for elders; the more elaborate the headrest, the higher the status of its owner. The patterns on Somali and Boni headrests probably reflect the Islamic influence in the region, and some scholars have interpreted the iconography as a "form of shorthand for a prayer," which would ensure God's (Allah) protection for the sleeper.