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    Urhobo (Nigeria)
    Mother and Child Shrine Figure
    Wood, pigment
    Height: 60 inches Width: 15 ½ inches Depth: 15 inches

    Of the two major sculptural traditions of the Urhobo of the western Niger River delta, a monumental figure of the type represented by this mother and child would have been in a shrine dedicated to nature spirits known as edjo re akare (spirits in carved form) connected with a mythic warrior who founded the village. Several such heroic figures were placed inside a relatively compact shrine building. In addition to the focal image of the warlike male founder, figures of a mother nursing a child were prominent. Each figure is frontal and self-contained, with no interaction indicated among the shrine family. The impetus for the founding of many of the shrines was a dream had by a leading elder, followed up with advice gained through divination.
    "Permeating most examples of wooden sculptures for the spirits is the theme of martial prowess" (Perkins Foss. "Urhobo Statuary for Spirits and Ancestors". African Arts. Vol. IX, no.4, July 1976, p.14). While the male figures are shown with explicitly warlike accoutrements, this pervasive undertone of protective aggression accounts for the almost frightening ferocity projected by this image of the nursing mother. This stresses that procreation and maternity are of equal importance in the spirit world and the human. Her tautened pose relates to Urhobo dance movements, and the arm and leg bands and necklace are marks of rank. Together, gesture and ornament reinforce her power and importance as behavioral model. The forms are classic for this mode of Urhobo sculpture, and the forehead bands reflect traditional raised facial cicatrices.
    The figure probably comes from a no longer maintained shrine and thus the feet have rotted away from insect damage and there are various cracks, abrasions, and minor losses.

    Provenance: Thomas D. Slater, Philadelphia

    Condition Report*: Condition report available upon request.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. Heritage does not guarantee the condition of frames and shall not be liable for any damage/scratches to frames, glass/acrylic coverings, original boxes, display accessories, or art that has slipped in frames. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2007
    7th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,495

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $9) per lot.

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