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Very Fine and Large Orientalist Oil on Canvas Titled "Ashura Rituals, Tangier"



Gordon B. Coutts (Scottish/American, 1868-1937) A very fine and large orientalist oil on canvas titled "Ashura Rituals, Tangier" (Arabic: عاشوراء‎ ʻĀshūrā’ - Urdu: عاشورا‎ - Persian: عاشورا‎ - Turkish: Aşure Günü). Signed and inscribed: 'Gordon Coutts/TANGIER' (lower right), circa 1920. Provenance: The Fisher Art Museum, University of Southern California. Gordon Coutts led a peripatetic career, born in Aberdeen, Scotland, he then studied and travelled to Glasgow, London, Paris and Rome before settling in Melbourne, Australia in 1891. In 1896 he moved to Sydney, where he taught at the Art Society of New South Wales, before returning back to Europe in 1899. With the climate of northern Europe detrimental to Coutts' poor health, he moved with his wife, Alice Grey, to the United States where he became a frequent exhibitor at the Bohemian Club in San Francisco. In 1920 he travelled to Tangiers, Morocco where, dressed as an Arab, he passed from tribe to tribe observing the lifestyle, customs and practices of the the village people and Bedouins. The present work depicts the celebration of Ashura. The day of Ashura is commemorated by Shi'ite Muslims; "A day of pain, pilgrimage and pageantry, it is one of the holiest in their religion. The word Ashura means 10, and refers to the tenth day of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar. This is a period of mourning and cleansing, which marks the martyrdom of Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. Coutts' visit to Tangiers coincided with the Ashura Festival, at a time when visitors were barred from attending such event. Coutts' natural curiosity and the fact that these rituals had never been photographed led Coutts to adopt a hooded local dress and try to pass unobserved in the crowd. He witnessed the pilgrims clad only in loose white blouses, their feet bare, dancing and leaping like dervishes, singing and shouting along the narrow streets of Tangier. They carried hatchets, bladed weapons and spiked iron balls on chains to self-inflict wounds. The artist recorded the pilgrims lacerating their own skulls, backs and shoulders, the blood streaming down their faces until they eventually drop from exhaustion. Each participant performs these rituals as a form of penitence. Measures: Height: 57 1/4 inches (145.4 cm). Width: 84 inches (213.4 cm). Works by Gordon B. Coutts are part of the collection of the following museums: The Oakland Museum, Oakland, California. The Cleveland Museum, Cleveland, Ohio. The National Art Gallery (Art Gallery of New South Wales), Sydney, Australia. Palm Springs Desert Museum, Palm Springs, California. Previously offered and illustrated at Christie's King Street in London on May 21, 2014, 19th Century European & Orientalist Art, Lot 56. Ref.: A2075


  • Creator
    Gordon B. Coutts 1 (Artist)
  • Dimensions
    Height: 57.25 in. (145.42 cm)Width: 84 in. (213.36 cm)Depth: 3 in. (7.62 cm)
  • Style
    Other (In the Style Of)
  • Materials and Techniques
  • Place of Origin
  • Period
  • Date of Manufacture
    circa 1920
  • Condition
    Repaired: A small patch professional restoration, about 1" x 1" right below the mule's right ear. Wear consistent with age and use. Minor fading. Overall condition is great with beautiful colors. A small patch professional restoration, about 1" x 1" right below the mule's right ear.
  • Seller Location
    Los Angeles, CA
  • Reference Number
    Seller: Ref.: A20751stDibs: LU179624325313

Shipping & Returns

  • Shipping
    $599 In-Home Delivery Shipping
    to United States 0, arrives in 3-8 weeks.
    We recommend this shipping type based on item size, type and fragility.
    Ships From: Los Angeles, CA
  • Return Policy

    This item cannot be returned.

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