We're on a mission to highlight ethnic shops in Phoenix. Every week, we'll bring our notebooks and cameras into local boutiques and specialty stores to talk to the characters who own them. Who says Phoenix has no culture? Not us.
Location: Hatuma African Gallery, 7033 E Main St. # 104, Scottsdale
Since Hatuma African Gallery is located in Scottsdale's arts district, you can easily make it one of many stops when you visit the surrounding boutiques and galleries.
The space is packed with history and all items are in plain sight -- no digging or perusing necessary. The
problem beauty of the shop is that everything is so visually stimulating, we didn't know where to start.
History: Sissoko's father is from Mali, West Africa and imports antiques to sell wholesale to collectors and museums. To make the artifacts more accessible, she opened the gallery three years ago and provides a selection of inventory from her dad's warehouse.
Specialty/Services: She sells West and Central African antique art including jewelry, statues, masks, and fabric. There are also modern pieces Sissoko gets custom-made during her travels.
Most interesting piece: 3-foot wooden Baga snake from 19th century Guinea. It's displayed as a sculpture, but traditionally it was used as a headdress by special dancers in the Baga tribe. After some Internet digging, we found that some Baga snakes have a home in the Louvre. For about $4,000, Sissoko's Baga snake can have a home in your living room.
We would purchase: Sterling silver jewelry from the Tuareg people. It would run us anywhere from $60 to $300 to take home the intricate, etched silver pieces.
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Why we love it: Items like this aren't just floating around Etsy or Amazon. Hatuma African Gallery would be just fine as a museum, but the fact that you could fill your home with its art is a bonus.
Sissoko even pulled out a map to show us where the Tuareg people (and their exquisite jewelry) come from. We love that Sissoko wants educate customers so they know exactly how lucky they are to have such an antique piece.
Whether the goal is to reconnect with your roots or appreciate cultures that were all but wiped out, Hatuma African Gallery is well worth a visit.