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Pair of Sandals

Arts of Africa

These sandals, carved entirely out of wood, have a remarkable incised geometric pattern covering their surfaces—an example of Swahili artists’ adaptation of Islamic design motifs circulating in East Africa along the Indian Ocean coast. A label on the underside of one sandal suggests that this pair may have once belonged to Fumo Omari, a sultan of the coastal state of Witu between 1890 and 1894.
  • Place Made: Witu, Kenya
  • DATES late 19th century
    DIMENSIONS A: 4 × 3 1/2 × 9 11/16 in. (10.2 × 8.9 × 24.6 cm) B: 3 3/4 × 3 1/2 × 9 11/16 in. (9.5 × 8.9 × 24.6 cm)  (show scale)
    INSCRIPTIONS On the underside of the left sandal, in black ink: "Sandals formerly the property of FUM OMARI the rebel Chief of WITU". A small octagonal paper label is adhered to the heel block with the words "African" written in pencil and "Swahili" written in blue ink.
    COLLECTIONS Arts of Africa
    CREDIT LINE Brooklyn Museum Collection
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Pair of sandals carved of tan/brown color wood block, with a lath spindle-like toe grip (knob) of a darker chocolate brown wood that is pegged into the front section of the sandal block. A slim wedge has been driven into the peg which can be seen from the underside. Condition: both sandals are in fair and stable condition. There are several small chip losses at the edges of the sandal blocks and at several of the ridges of the spindle spool. Cracks along the woodgrain are decernible on the undersides of both sandals. Accumulations of dust in the recesses of the carved design areas.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Swahili. Pair of Sandals, late 19th century. Wood, A: 4 × 3 1/2 × 9 11/16 in. (10.2 × 8.9 × 24.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Museum Collection, X1054a-b. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: , X1054a-b_SL3.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, NP recommended; casted transparency, X1054a-b_SL3.jpg., 2017
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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