Ethnic Tree of Life in Bronze

Another recent acquisition, I paid $15NZ with free shipping for this piece. I thought it was a really interesting object.

At first glance it looks african, and a quick search and you can find it listed as very old and very rare african tribal art.


It’s very RARE because it is NOT AFRICAN TRIBAL ART at all.

Yes, that’s right NOT AFRICAN.

The left side advert above – sold it as an african object recently on RubyLane for a steal at $225USD…. AND YES the right advert from Historical Designs is trying to palm it off for just over $4000USD. With a picture of an African tribeswoman smiling for good measure. The seller on Rubylane I think may have just made a mistake. The one on the right, Historical Designs of NY, I think is a fraudster and a thief, who doesn’t do the necessary research to command those sorts of prices. He also likens the work to a french modernist where there is no similarities at all! Steer clear of that snake oil peddler!!!

This is the piece I purchased…

Have you guessed where it might have come from?

let me give you a few hints.

  • It is tribal
  • it is primitive art
  • It is cast metal
  • it is a tree of life to ward off bad spirits from entering a premises
  • it is 20 century

have another look


This piece is known as the Orissa Tree of Life. It is said to be made by the Kondh people of the Orissa region of West Bengal, India.

The Kondh people are one of the native tribes in India (of which there are still many), surviving primarily by hunting and gathering. They have their own belief system, cultural practices and ways of living. They largely stay out of the spotlight and stay in the hills and forests where they can be closer to Nature and Peace. However a recent event involving these people blew up to worldwide proportions after it was discovered a huge mining corporation had flagged their homes, village and hill as the site of an open cast mine. The Multinational mining company had already destroyed villages of other smaller tribes (forcing them closer to extinction) to set up their base at the foot of the hill that the Dongria Kondh lived on and worshipped; the mining company had reported the land uninhabited. Check out the mini vid narrated by Joanna Lumley below.


Fascinating subculture, I never knew anything about tribes in India.. I never knew much about india.


The object itself is unique as it is cast by a lost wax process known locally as Dhokra method. This method of casting has been practiced for more than 4000 years by these tribes and it is not unlike ancient casting methods found in other cultures around the world.

This object is a fascinating little peek into another culture with a story as just big to tell. I assume these objects are still being made and sold in stalls at market bazaars, or by hawkers in every major tourist city in India, and for market stall tatt I quite like it. It has taught me something today.

When I will look at it I will think of those people struggling to keep their existence pure, and of their fight to keep the industrial invasion from their shadowing their livelihood. I will also think about the enormous amount of work that has gone into this object and that it signifies so much more than a pretty dust-trap.



2 thoughts on “Ethnic Tree of Life in Bronze

  1. Thank you so much for your blog. I recently came upon one of the trees of life and was also fascinated. Strange that I should be drawn to this object because I also live in an area where a copper mine threatens jaguar habitat in my area in Arizona and will destroys our homes and way of life as well by poisoning the little water that is available here by a Canadian mining company. Maybe Avatar isn’t too far off. The earth is asking for help.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh that sounds devastating, I am sorry to hear that. It puts in perspective every footstep leaves a mark and we should tread more carefully as humans on this earth of ours.


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